Suicide Prevention Network gets national press |

Suicide Prevention Network gets national press


Perhaps it isn’t how many Douglas County residents have completed suicides, but how many have been saved, Suicide Prevention Network Director Debbie Posnien suggests.

Posnien is the topic of a New York Times article on how to talk to someone who has had a close relative take their own life.

“We call it the word no one wants to talk about,” Posnien said on Thursday. “But we believe that if you talk about it, you can make sure people get some help.”

Posnien said the Network helped families of 18 people who died by their own hand last year.

“More women ended their life, and many used a gun, which is not typical,” she said.

Most were over 50 year old, and there was one teenager, the rest were in their 30s and 40s.

The Times article was written by Sierra Nevada College Professor Gayle Brandeis, who lives in Incline Village.

Brandeis wrote a book about losing her mother to suicide, and said many people had trouble saying anything comforting to her.

“When she did talk to people she thought would be helpful, they didn’t say the right things to her,” Posnien said. “We just had a conversation. I had no idea what she was going to take from me.”

Brandeis and Posnien met a year ago and the author was a guest speaker at Emily’s Walk held at Lake Tahoe.

Posnien said when she took the position of director of the network, the county had experienced 25 suicides, giving it one of the highest rates in the nation.

She said that one of the things that survivors have to know is that their grief is a journey.

“There’s a lot of right things to say,” Posnien said. “People need to know that they will never get over this, but we can help you get through it. The woulda, the shoulda, and the coulda are what haunts them forever.”

She pointed out that completed suicides come from all ages. Last year the youngest was an 18-year-old and the oldest was 86.

She said that when the network learned there was a high percentage of women, it formed a support group for women that meets the second and fourth Tuesdays every month at the network’s Minden office.

There’s also a PTSD group that has attracted 25 members including veterans and others who’ve experienced trauma.

“We just had 564 people at our fundraiser,” she said. “It sold out the first month. I asked if anyone had ever lost a loved one to suicide, and every person stands up.”

According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, who serves as the county’s coroner, there were 16 completed suicides during 2018.

That’s down from 17 in 2017, but more than the nine a year reported in 2015 and 2016.

There were nine overdoses in 2018, some of which could be intentional, but were ruled accidental because there wasn’t information to indicate something else.

For more information, visit the Network’s web site at or call 775-783-1510.

The Times article quoting Posnien is at