FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 1, 2004) --- Governor Ernie Fletcher made suicide prevention a priority in Kentucky when he signed Senate Joint Resolution 148. The resolution, shepherded through the 2004 General Assembly by Senator Tom Buford and Representative Mary Lou Marzian, recognizes that suicide is preventable when public health, mental health, survivors, and other stakeholders make a sustained cooperative effort to reach people at risk.
SJR 148 validated the work of the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Planning Group, which was convened by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in 2002. The group is building public awareness, coordinating training opportunities, and evaluating research in the suicide prevention field.
"It seems appropriate to talk about the efforts of this group during National Suicide Prevention Week, September 5-11. This country-wide observance calls public attention to one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary death - suicide," said Commissioner Pat Wear, Department for Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services. "We want people to know that we take this seriously and are working to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in Kentucky."
Suicide affects most ethnic, economic, social, and age groups. About 500 Kentuckians die annually by suicide. An additional 2,600 are hospitalized for suicide attempts. Surviving family members not only suffer the loss of a loved one to suicide, but also may be at risk for emotional problems themselves. Kentucky’s suicide death rate is consistently higher than the national suicide death rate.
One training, already a part of the state’s suicide prevention work plan, is "Question, Persuade, and Refer" (QPR). QPR prepares persons from all walks of life to identify suicide risks and warning signs in friends and colleagues, then to refer them to mental health professionals. The goal is to have one person in every home in Kentucky trained with QPR in order to recognize those risks and warning signs.
Building community-based suicide prevention efforts is another important strategy of the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Planning Group. One such effort is underway in Owensboro thanks to the leadership of Bob Robey, a certified QPR trainer and former Hospice bereavement coordinator. "No human being should have to go through the pain that the survivor of suicide must endure, and no human being should be allowed to get so low that they decide to die. It's compassion, hope, and knowledge that will save lives," said Robey.
The Owensboro Suicide Prevention Task Force will host Dr. Paul Quinnett, founder of QPR, on September 7. Quinnett will present a workshop for professionals on suicide risk assessment, management, and treatment at the Owensboro Medical Health System’s Center Street Conference Center, 811 East Parrish Avenue. On September 10, QPR training will be available to the general public. For more information, call 270/926-7565 or visit mhmr.chs.ky.gov/MH/suicideprev_calendar.asp http://mhmr.chs.ky.gov/MH/suicideprev_calendar.asp.
Note to editors: the following resources may be helpful for further background:
· A complete list of crisis mental health lines for Kentuckians may be found at <http://mhmr.chs.ky.gov/files/cmhc_crisis.pdf>
· Suicide crisis help is available by calling: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
· Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support groups are available in Campbellsville, Fort Thomas, Frankfort, Hazard, Lexington, Louisville, and Owensboro. More information about SOS groups may be found at: www.afsp.org <http://www.afsp.org>
· For more information about suicide and its warning signs visit: www.suicidology.org <http://www.suicidology.org> or mhmr.chs.ky.gov/MH/Suicideprev.asp
· To learn more about the Cabinet’s Suicide Prevention Planning Group, contact Barbara Kaminer, 502-564-7610, firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
· For more information about QPR gatekeeper training: www.qprinstitute.com <http://www.qprinstitute.com>
· More information about Robey’s efforts in Owensboro and across the state may be found at: www.kysuicideprevention.com <http://www.kysuicideprevention.com>
· Kentucky Suicide Prevention Planning Group Report "Preventing Suicide in Kentucky-Progress Report June 2004" is available at: <http://mhmr.chs.ky.gov/MH/Suicideprev.asp>