COOS COUNTY — The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs recently awarded Coos Health and Wellness with funding to continue its ongoing efforts to reduce suicides among veterans in Coos County.
The funds, which are being provided through the state’s veteran suicide awareness and prevention fund, will allow CHW to host additional QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) training sessions throughout the South Coast.
Eric Gleason, the health integration and promotion director at CHW, said the training sessions give community members the tools needed to identify the warnings signs of suicide and how to respond.
The department is looking to increase its outreach within the community and get as much community members trained as possible.
“We are trying to do more to reach out into the community and bring everyone together to talk about suicide,” he said. “Nobody really wants to have the conversation, but not having the conversation we are missing out on a lot of opportunities to save individuals that we may have had the option to save.”
The QPR training program takes about two hours to complete. For those who have participated, a booklet and wallet card was given as a review tool with contact information to local resources.
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Following a three step process, the training program essentially creates “gatekeepers” throughout the county to help spot people in crisis and assist them in getting the help they need.
From 2011 to 2017, the county recorded approximately 18 deaths by suicide a year. This year, approximately 23 suicides have been recorded from January to May.
“A lot of community members want to know what they can do on an individual level,” said Gleason. “There are a lot of misconceptions around the fact if someone is suicidal asking them if they’re suicidal is not going to actually make it worse.
"It’s OK to ask someone who is suicidal if they are and if they have a plan and if they have a timeframe…if they answer with legitimate plans it’s OK to try to get them help.”
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can contact the Coos County 24-hour crisis hotline at 541-266-6800 or 1-888-543-5763. You can also text “Hello” to 741741 for 24/7 free crisis support.