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Suicide Prevention Resources Available Throughout Lewis County

Chronicle, The (Centralia, WA) - 9/12/2013

Sept. 12--Those who are considering suicide or are worried about someone who may be suicidal have an array of resources in Lewis County, including crisis hotlines, evaluations and free classes.

With Sept. 8 to Sept. 14 recognized as National Suicide Prevention Week, the Lewis County Coroner's Office is working with community partners to emphasize ways to reduce the preventable deaths.

"The idea is to get the message out that, don't be afraid to reach out and contact people," Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said. "Suicide is a 100-percent preventable type of death."

The Coroner's Office is partnering with Cascade Mental Health Care and Lewis County Public Health & Social Services to raise awareness.

Cascade Mental Health Care will offer Mental Health First Aid USA on Sept. 30 for people who work with adults and on Oct. 1 for people who work with children.

Both classes will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break.

To register for the class, call (360) 330-9044.

Sarah Hockett, the program manager for crisis services at Cascade Mental Health Care, said the first aid classes are usually only taught to health care professionals and this will be the first time they are open to the public. If there is a high public response, Hockett said, the class may be continued.

Cascade Mental Health Care additionally offers a family support group on Wednesday nights from 5 to 7 p.m. for adult family members whose loved ones experience mental illness.

Crisis services in Lewis County are offered at no cost, 24 hours a day, at Cascade Mental Health Care by calling 1-800-599-6696.

"A lot of times we can try to mitigate things before a hospital evaluation," Hockett said. "We do a lot of resource management. People get into a crisis when they feel like they don't have an out, getting bills paid or paying for medical care. We help them get coordinated with community resources."

McLeod said the purpose of the Suicide Prevention Week is to work with residents to help increase awareness about suicide, educate the public about the signs and symptoms of suicide and have them refer people who may need help to the appropriate resources.

For the rest of the year, resources are also available from the Human Response Network, Providence Centralia Hospital and even by calling 911.

Local schools work with children as young as 5 to offer assistance.

The Chehalis School District uses four mental health therapists, along with four other school counselors to work with students and families.

Brian Adams, a mental health therapist for the Chehalis School District, said he travels throughout the district's schools to help distraught kids get through serious situations.

"When a kid goes home at 2:40 p.m. we want to know they will be safe and return the next day," Adams said.

Centralia Superintendent Steve Bodnar said the teachers and counselors in his school district are all given information and resources to recognize a child that may be struggling emotionally.

"Any time we see a student, especially ninth to 12th grade, emotionally distressed, there is a referral and the counselor gets to talk with the student," Bodnar said. "It becomes a three-way conversation with the parents, the student and the counselor."

The suicide rates in Lewis County have slightly risen in the past few years with nine reported in 2011, 14 in 2012 and 12, to date, this year.

McLeod said the suicides in Lewis County range from kids under 18 years old to people in their 80s, with no general trend.

"We haven't been able to identify one special theme or identify a majority of people," McLeod said. "Trends are up to us to watch. We track them and I keep a close eye to see if there was one common denominator."


(c)2013 The Chronicle (Centralia, Wash.)

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