Sunday, September 26, 2010

In the Aftermath of a Bronco's suicide: A Town Hall of Hope

During the month of September, the news about suicide has bounced back and forth between good news and bad. First, we heard the concerning news about an increase in suicide rates in Colorado to the highest we have seen in decades. Then we honored our loved ones lost to suicide during World Suicide Prevention Day and celebrated the launch of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Last week, suicide made the headlines again. This time, suicide has stolen one of our Colorado stars, a young NFL player for the Denver Broncos, Kenny McKinley. The Denver Post has done a remarkable job covering this story with compassion and honesty -- in particular, Woody Paige, a columnist for the Post wrote eloquently about his response to McKinley's death and how he understood this experience, for he had been suicidal himself.

Photo by Zoetnet Photo

On Friday, the local news had reason again to pay attention. This time, it was because 75 leaders in the community converged for a Town Hall of Hope at the Carson J Spencer Foundation headquarters in Genesee. Elected officials, hospital administrators, funeral home staff, school personnel, and even a leadership business class came together to hear suicide prevention experts share information on the critical state of suicide in Colorado and offer solutions for change. Some of the recommended strategies for change include:
  • Better data collection on suicidal behavior -- thoughts, attempts, and response to suicide bereavement in particular
  • Better research on programs and treatment -- we must get a better sense out what is working and why
  • More screening for depression and other mental illnesses -- we need to catch people earlier on the progression of these life threatening diseases
  • More advocacy for public policy changes -- to increase funding for our Office of Suicide Prevention and mental health services around the state
  • More training in our schools, workplaces, faith communities, and other systems to help more people learn how to identify risk factors and warning signs and know what to do to get people help.
  • Better social marketing campaigns that help change the culture around suicide and mental health
  • Better support services for those bereaved by suicide
  • And finally...more town hall meetings to help educate the leaders of our communities and convince them that enough is enough -- it is time to cultivate a tipping point of change!
Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention -- what is your role?

No comments:

Post a Comment