Offering Hope: Creating a Suicide Safer Community

Every time I do a presentation, training or outreach, I get the same questions and comments:  How can you talk to someone who is suicidal?  OR I am afraid to ask the person if they are suicidal because it might cause them to do it.  My response every time is, “I might be the only person who stopped to ask.”  OR I know I did my part by asking the question, “Are you thinking suicide?”

What I know is that in a suicide crisis, the difference between recognizing and acting where there are vague ideas of suicide before these lead to a self-inflicted injury, can mean the difference between life and death.  The sooner warning signs are detected and help sought, the better the outcome of a suicide crisis will be.

It is no one person, organization or group that is responsible to help with this issue.  We ALL need to be aware of these signs and reach out.  But ask yourself do you have the capacity to actually ask the question without judgement.  If you can’t, find someone who can.  That is just as valuable.  Maybe you can become the person’s at risk support after the crisis.

According to the 2018 Tillamook County Oregon Health Teen Survey, 21 % of 8th & 11th grade students reported they have contemplated suicide.  While 11% of 6th grade students report they have contemplated and in fact 6% attempted.  Good News!  Due to the increase of suicide intervention training in middle and high school, there is an average of a 32% reduction for 11th graders.

Just this year, I have stood in a classroom surrounded by youth and when I ask that question.  When asked, over 80% of students say yes they have been impacted.  Further, when I have asked if they have talked, texted, used social media with someone about suicide, 100% of them say yes. Unfortunately, there is a perception that youth will automatically contact an adult if they are or know someone who is in a crisis.  What stops them?

Often time’s kids get stuck in their fear of not knowing what to do and getting their friend in trouble.  By empowering youth with the knowledge where to go, who to talk to and what to say they will more likely reach out to their peers.  However, the adults in their lives also need to know the same.

What is a suicide safe community?

A suicide safe community is one that has demonstrated a commitment to suicide prevention, promoting wellness and mental health, an ability to talk openly and freely about suicide and support to those whom have been impacted.  It is a community that know that by saving one life at a time, it contributes too few suicides in the community as a whole.

Why build a suicide safe community?

Suicide is a community health problem. The stigma surrounding suicide reduces the range and number of people who could help and prevent suicide. Suicide is not the domain of any one discipline or viewpoint and virtually everyone will think about suicide at some time in their life. Thoughts of suicide are dangerous and all persons with thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously. Regarding one person’s thoughts of suicide as more serious than another’s is almost as dangerous as suicide itself.

Where do we start?

We start by educating yourself about suicide.  What it is and what it isn’t.  Further, we start talking to people opening about it and finding out if they have been impacted.  In partnership with the Year of Wellness, classes are being offered throughout the year to provide training on basic suicide awareness to suicide intervention training.

On Thursday and Friday, April 25-26, 2019, a two-day training will be offered in Tillamook County @ the Bay City Arts Center in Bay City.  Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is for everyone 16 or older-regardless of prior experience-who wants to be able to provide suicide first aid.  Shown by major studies to significantly reduce suicidality, the ASIST model teaches effective intervention skill while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community.

Register @

For questions contact DeAnna Pearl @ 503 842 8102 x 270 or email

June 12, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *