The Oregon Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention
Approximately 75 Oregon youths die by suicide each year, making it the second leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 24. In 1998, the suicide rate among Oregonians in that age group was 10.6 per 100,000. From 1995 to 1997, this state?s teen suicide rate was 29% higher than the national average. Even greater numbers of youth are treated in Oregon's emergency rooms for attempts they survive. Over 750 suicide attempts are reported each year. In the 1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16% of the state?s youth - an estimated 26,000 individuals - reported seriously considering suicide. These data provide a shocking wake-up call to communities that have not yet recognized youth suicide as one of Oregon's silent epidemics. The Department of Human Services, as part of its mission to help people become independent, healthy, and safe, seeks to end that silence with a call to action. This plan outlines an initiative through which Oregonians can help break through denial and cultural taboos about death, help end the shame associated with suicide, help foster the conviction that not even one youth has to die by suicide, and help take responsibility by openly and honestly joining with other Oregonians to reduce suicide among our youth.
The 15 strategies for state and community-based action require a commitment to partnership and shared responsibility among state agencies, between state and local governments, and between public and private sectors. Implementation of the strategies will require coordinated and comprehensive planning that fosters integration of services. THE 15 STRATEGIES
- Develop and implement public education campaigns to increase knowledge about symptoms of depression and suicide, response skills, and resources; increase help-seeking behavior; and decrease stigma associated with treatment for behavioral health problems.
- Promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means of self-harm
- Educate youth and young adults about suicide prevention
- Reduce harassment in schools and communities
- Provide media education to reduce suicide contagion
- Provide education for professionals in health care, education,and human services
- Provide Gatekeeper Training (Suicide Intervention Training) to create a network of people trained to recognize and respond to youth in crisis
- Implement screening and referral services
- Increase effectiveness of crisis hot lines
- Enhance crisis services
- Establish and maintain crisis response teams
- Improve access to affordable behavioral health care
- Provide skill-building support groups to increase protective factors and involve families
- Support suicide survivors by fostering the development of bereavement support groups
- Improve follow-up services for suicide attempters
The plan emphasizes three key prevention approaches: (1) community education, (2) integration of systems serving high risk youth, and (3) access to a full range of health care that includes mental health and alcohol and drug treatment services.
Our challenge and responsibility are to create communities where our youth won?t choose to end their lives as a solution to a temporary problem, and communities where adults believe that suicide is preventable and that not even one child should die by suicide.