Get Healthy Carson City: Zero suicide starts with community connectedness

Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 8 to 14, 2019.

During this week, individuals and organizations around the country will join their voices to broadcast the message that suicide can be prevented. They hope to reach as many people as possible with the tools and resources to support themselves and their community. The theme of Suicide Prevention Week in Nevada is “Connectiveness Matters: Integrating Systems to Build Connectedness.” It takes all communities joining together to make a difference — from individuals and families, to workplaces, government agencies and community organizations.

Nevada’s suicide statistics have been staggering in past decades. Currently ranked 11th in the nation, our rates are higher than most other states. While most other states’ rates are rising at an incredible pace, Nevada has been holding steady, even decreasing slightly. Continuing to progress with positive momentum, Misty Vaughan Allen, the Nevada state coordinator for the Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP), has been working with communities, coalitions and organizations to fight against these preventable statistics. When she heard about the success of Zero Suicide within other states, it became clear Nevada needed Zero Suicide and took on the challenge.

The Zero Suicide Initiative is one part of Nevada’s comprehensive strategy for suicide prevention. The focus of Zero Suicide is to understand suicide deaths are preventable for people receiving health care. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention Resource Center, both support the Zero Suicide approach which aims to improve care and outcomes for individuals at risk of suicide in the health care systems. The bold goal of obtaining zero suicides among persons receiving care is an aspirational challenge. Health care systems would benefit greatly by accepting this challenge. Nevada’s goal is to implement Zero Suicide throughout all our communities and begin to save one life at a time.

Momentum is growing as the Zero Suicide project coordinator Cherylyn Rahr-Wood goes out to our community health and behavioral health care organizations to meet with leaders. Feeling this energy, encouraged leaders are reaching out to the OSP to begin the implementation of Zero Suicide. Communities across the state are working together to support their health care systems toward achieving the common goal of connectedness. Several communities have organized suicide prevention committees and are making strides to reach zero suicides. The Zero Suicide Initiative is creating a lasting ripple effect in Nevada.

There are reasons for hope!

The next time you hear someone ask, “Is suicide preventable?” or you ask this question yourself, the answer lies partly in recognizing how much we do know about preventing suicide.

Did you know:

• Effective suicide prevention strategies exist that reduce suicidal thinking and behavior. Evaluation studies and research have shown programs taking place within clinical settings and in the community are helping. Find out more about these programs by checking out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Technical Package at

• National and local efforts are changing the conversation about suicide to one of hope and help and encouraging effective messaging around suicide prevention. And as a result, more often we see compassionate portrayals and responses in the media and entertainment industry after a suicide death.

• The Nevada Intervention Connection is a website with multiple training opportunities to helping concerned community members recognize the signs and find the words to reach those in need. Check out the website at

While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. Reach out to local organizations, county agencies or a crisis center to learn more about how you can support their work. Forge connections within your community — check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, add your voice to National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day by joining the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention for a night of hope and inspiration. A showing of the film “The Ripple Effect” by Kevin Hines, a survivor of suicide who attempted to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19, will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Truckee Meadows Community College Dandini campus. Following the film, a “Ruck4Life” walk hosted by multiple veterans organizations will honor those lost to suicide, whether serving actively in the military, a veteran or civilian. Luminaries will guide participants along the path for the night walk around the campus. If you are unable to attend, you can still add your voice by lighting a candle near a window at 8 p.m. to remember a lost loved one, to show your support for the survivors of suicide and suicide prevention.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, the Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope will take place in 10 communities across the state.

For information or to register, go to

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment