Suicide Prevention Network offers training, support

As the new executive director of the Suicide Prevention Network in a county with one of the highest rates in the United States, Debbie Posnien is off to a busy start.

Since she accepted the post in February, Posnien created an advisory board along with the board of directors, helped with the well-attended Parents' Symposium on March 11 and is offering suicide prevention training to the community next month.

With 20 reported suicides last year, Douglas County had the highest rate in the state for 2008. That record looks to be repeating itself as four suicides were reported in the first two months of this year.

Posnien doesn't let the statistics intimidate her, or the fact that the funding for her position runs out in about six months.

"My motto is that I am reaching out in hope. Once you choose hope, anything's possible," she said, borrowing a philosophy credited to the late Christopher Reeve.

If she does one thing in the next six months, it will be to raise awareness.

"We have to talk about suicide," she said. "We have to increase public awareness and get everybody involved. It's the most preventable cause of death there is."

Posnien is offering free suicide prevention training 9-11:30 a.m. April 25 at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School.

The QPR (question, persuade, refer) training has been offered before, but Posnien thinks it's time for a new class.

"Much like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, the fundamentals are easily learned," she said.

The class is open to anyone 18 or older.

Since suicide is such a factor among juveniles, Posnien plans to offer separate training for junior and senior high school students.

"The Suicide Prevention Network has been in existence since 1998. In that time, they have done their very best to bring awareness to the Valley," Posnien said.

Ten years ago, the group secured a $100,000 grant, but the funding for Posnien's position runs out in six months.

She and her board members are working to secure more money for the position.

Posnien offered to speak to any business, service, church or community group.

"Wherever I can be available to help or educate people, that's where I want to be," she said.

One of the offshoots of the prevention network is the Suicide Survivors Group that therapist Jodi Wass has facilitated for several years.

The survivors meet the first and third Thursdays of the month at the Partnership of Community Resources. Wass said recently the number of attendees had grown substantially in recent weeks.

While that growth may reflect an increase in suicides, it also indicates survivors are reaching out.

Posnien remembers growing up that suicide was a taboo subject.

"If anybody committed suicide, you didn't talk about it," she said. "That stigma has got to change."


n Survivors of Suicide Support Group, first and third Thursdays 6-7 p.m. at the Partnership of Community Resources, 1528 Highway 395, Suite 100. Family, friends or coworkers of those lost to suicide are invited. Information, 782-8611.

n Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County, Debbie Posnien, executive director. Information: 782-8611.

n Resource telephone numbers: Crisis call line, (800) 992-5757; Douglas Mental Health, 782-3671; Douglas County Sheriff's Office, 911; Partnership of Community Resources, 782-8611.


Survivors of Suicide

Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Partnership of Community Resources


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