Making a difference in Douglas County’s suicide rate
November 22, 2011
This letter is in response to the kind words of Dylan Zigenis in his letter to the editor. I believe that what Dylan and his family experienced is nothing more than our mission in action, administered by the hopeful, kind and loving director (and only employee) of our agency. Those of us who volunteer for suicide prevention in Douglas County do so to support people who have been affected by suicide and to prevent future suicides in our community.
We would like to clarify that the Suicide Prevention Network does receive funding by way of grant monies awarded by the Nevada State Office of Suicide Prevention. In addition the Douglas County commissioners have graciously awarded annual grant funds since 2009. We applaud the county commissioners in their efforts as they have seen the need in Douglas County and have been very generous to our agency. These funds support our extra programs and with their help will continue.
Our mission is “To provide suicide prevention, intervention, education and support service for all members of Douglas County.” Since 2009 a group of about 16 dedicated volunteers have been working to put on the annual Memory Walk in September, give support to individuals affected by suicide via group sessions, assist first responders who are called upon in life and death crises, and educate, educate, educate the general public. Debbie Posnien, executive director of Suicide Prevention Network, has worked tirelessly to get our message out to the public; to make sure that those in need of our services know who to call and where to go to get help.
In the past three years we have accomplished a lot. We have increased the number of participants in the annual memory walk from 87 in 2009 to 130 in 2011, and have created an energizing event with community support. We continue to offer a support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, which meets twice a month. Regular attendance has increased from about four in 2009 to 15 currently. Living Out Loud, a student group, was started to encourage young people in the community to speak out about their feelings, planned teen activities within the community in hopes that talking will avert an action such as suicide. More than 15 young people meet twice monthly and plan their own events. Over one hundred gun lock packages with Suicide Prevention Network contact information were distributed at a community fundraising dinner. Most importantly, the number of suicides in Douglas County has dropped dramatically, during a period of national economic upheaval.
Statistics are as indicated below for the last three years:
2008 – 21 completed suicides
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2009 – 22 completed suicides
2010 – 6 completed suicides
To date in 2011 – 7 completed suicides
The more astounding statistic is one that the East Fork Paramedic District is tracking and that is there are over 210 attempted suicides in both 2009 and 2010.
The work must continue!
Fundraising has always been difficult for non-profit organizations trying to achieve growth and sustainability. The same is true today! Like all non-profit agencies in this current economy, we face disappearing and/or shrinking funding as a fact of life. We now find ourselves in the position of needing to reach out to our community to keep our agency solvent. Please help us to continue to be a resource in our community for those in need. Thank you for your past support and for any continuing support you may be able to offer. It has and will be appreciated, not only by our organization, but by those we serve, as suicide is everyone’s business.
Denise Castle is writing this on behalf of the Suicide Prevention Network’s board of directors.