Suicide in Columbia County

"We are hoping to refocus and re-engage with the community to bring awareness and restart the conversation surrounding suicide and what we can do as a community to prevent suicides from occurring."

Sarah Trejo, Columbia Health Services Suicide Prevention Coordinator

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As The Chronicle reported in an online article this past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data showing that suicide was the leading cause of death among Oregon youth ages 10 to 24 in 2018, up from the second leading cause of death in 2017.

The CDC reports that Oregon is now ranked 11th highest in the nation for youth suicide death rates, up from 17th in 2017.

In Columbia County, officials tell us there has been an increase in adult suicides.

Columbia County Health Services has scheduled a community meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 11 to discuss cause and prevention.

In the following conversation, Columbia Health Services Suicide Prevention Coordinator Sarah Trejo provides insight into the need in Columbia County for discussions about suicide prevention.

The Chronicle: What is the purpose of the March 11 community forum and what do you hope to accomplish.

Sarah Trejo: We have seen an increase in completed suicides in the month of February.

We had seven completed suicides in 2019. We have had seven completed suicides by the end of February of 2020.

When the Suicide Prevention Task Force was created in 2018, it was in response to an increase in completed suicides. We are hoping to refocus and re-engage with the community to bring awareness and restart the conversation surrounding suicide and what we can do as a community to prevent suicides from occurring.

The Chronicle: By the numbers, what do the Columbia County suicide demographics tell us?

Trego: By the numbers, there is an increased rate of adult male suicides.

The Chronicle: What resources and help are available in Columbia County for anyone who might be suicidal and is more needed, if so, why?

Trejo: As a community, we have so many great resources to help anyone that might be suicidal.

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Columbia Community Mental Health Crisis Line : 503-782-4499
  • Youtline: 877-698-8491 or text "teen2teen" to 839863

Our website has a resource library of additional resources that the community offers: https://www.columbia-health.org/suicide.html

The Chronicle: What are the signs, the signals, that a person is suicidal?

Trejo: There are a variety of warning signs. An individual's talk, mood, behavior, health factors, environment, and history. There is no single cause.

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has a great website about warning signs: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/

The Chronicle: What would your recommendation be to family members, friends and co-workers who might see such signals or signs of a suicidal person?

Trejo: Be aware of of the warning signs. Be available if that person needs or wants to talk and be direct. Ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide. If they are having thoughts of suicide, stay with them and offer support. Call the national suicide prevention hotline together.

https://afsp.org/find-support/when-someone-is-at-risk/ - American Foundation of Suicide Prevention gives step by step instructions on how to help someone having thoughts of suicide.

The Columbia County Health Services suicide community meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 11, at the St. Helens Public Library, 375 S 18th St. in St. Helens.

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