Letter to the Editor

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide was the leading cause of death for 15-54 year old Oregonians in 2017 (https://bit.ly/2zehcd6). Suicide was listed as the eighth leading cause for all ages and an Oregonian dies by suicide every 11 hours. Furthermore, the CDC reported that in 2017 more people in the U.S. died by suicide than in any previous year, including more Oregonians, more Oregon youth 15-24, and more people in Curry County (https://bit.ly/2KFMiAY). This situation is particularly concerning in rural Oregon where there aren't adequate behavioral health professionals.

Gordon Clay, a suicide prevention advocate from Brookings, who runs an organization with the goal of achieving Zero Attempts, said "We can wait around for the powers to be to find the funding to make the necessary changes or we can step up as individual citizens to do something about it."

There are many little things that individuals could do:

  • Learn the risk factors and warning signs
  • Take a one-hour on line QPR course
  • When you notice a change in a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member, no matter how small, trust the signs and trust your gut and ask "R U OK?". Let them know that it's OK to say, "I'm not OK."
  • Check in with a friend by phone or text to see how they are doing
  • Invite a friend to meet for coffee or to share a meal together
  • Send a handwritten card to let someone know you are thinking of them

If you're having difficulty knowing what to say, check out the list at https://bit.ly/2SOU1la

Join others to create something that involves your entire community.

Clay choose the latter. He saw a 16-page, four color newspaper insert called Suicide Awareness and Prevention: Finding Hope that the Grants Pass Daily Courier wrote, designed, produced and ran in newspapers in Jackson and Josephine counties last September during Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. He worked with the publisher Travis Moore, to make it more pertinent for Coos, Curry and Del Norte counties.

He also wanted to open up the donor base to include small businesses, organizations and most importantly individual citizens, to show that the entire village needs to get involved, not just major stakeholders.

While major funding still came from Advanced Health and AllCare Health, 87 other businesses and organizations stepped-up, including 41 individuals.

"I'm very pleased with the community support we received and am looking forward to the magazine's appearance on Wednesday, Sept. 4, in The World and Thursday, Sept. 5, in the Bandon Western World," Clay said. "I hope people will read it, learn the warning signs and what to do and not do.

"Instead of opening up every phone or face-to-face conversation with the meaningless 'How are you?'" Mr. Clay said, "Really be aware when you see a friend exhibiting one of those warning signs, and change the dialogue to 'R U OK?'"

We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Commit to break the silence by talking about your lived experience, freely. Let's work together as a village to save lives.

Gordon Clay






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