Tompkins Weekly Staff
Local mental health organizations are putting an even greater emphasis on suicide prevention.
More than 40 representatives from local groups were on hand recently to launch the Tompkins Suicide Prevention Coalition, which began as a collaboration between the New York State Office of Mental Health, Tompkins County Mental Health Services, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services, Care Compass Network and The Sophie’s Fund.
“It’s inspiring to see the breadth of the organizations and individuals represented,” said Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County mental health commissioner, in a prepared statement. “It’s one of the things that makes Tompkins County special: When we have these types of issues, we are able to get folks in the room and talk about how we are going to tackle them.”
Sharon MacDougall, deputy commissioner of Mental Health Services and the coalition’s organizer, said that the county seeks to foster greater collaboration in suicide prevention among the array of agencies and groups who deal with the issue.
During the day-long meeting, Garra Lloyd-Lester, associate director of the Suicide Prevention Center New York, briefed the participants on steps toward creating a successful suicide prevention coalition and presided over a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats analysis.
Lee-Ellen Marvin, executive director of the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins County, told the gathering that while Tompkins County’s suicide rate last year was seven deaths per 100,000, the actual number of suicide deaths jumped from four in 2014 and five in 2015 to 11 in 2016.
“We can’t be complacent about suicide loss,” she said.
Marvin, whose agency has spearheaded suicide prevention in the area since 1969 by staffing a crisis hotline, after-trauma services, and education programs, listed two goals she hoped the coalition would help advance.
The first is better understanding of people at risk in certain communities and how to reach them. The second is adoption of the Zero Suicide Initiative, a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems.
“What we need to communicate is that there is hope, there is help, and that there is absolutely no shame in getting help,” Marvin concluded.
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For more information, visit the websites of Tompkins County Mental Health Services at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/mh, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service at IthacaCrisis.org, Sophie Fund at TheSophieFund.org/the-watershed-declaration and Care Compass Network at CareCompassNetwork.org/projects/behavioral-health/crisis-stabilization.