ENID, Okla. — Garfield County Suicide Prevention Task Force is focused on eliminating suicide in the county by educating the community, increasing awareness, decreasing the stigma and providing support and resources.
The task force is a small core group made up of mental health professionals and prevention specialists.
Task force members have delivered education and prevention programs to area middle and high school students and to adults in the community. The programs have reached nearly 1,000 people and provide education and awareness about suicide and information on warning signs and what they can do if they fear someone close to them is suicidal.
“It is a difficult subject to talk about, but it’s important we keep the dialogue active,” said Tippi Rasp, chairwoman of GCSPTF and a licensed professional counselor with Youth & Family Services of North Central Oklahoma. “That’s really the only way prevention can work.”
Counselors from Youth & Family Services who are on the task force have been called on to provide the programs by school counselors and administrators from the area after a suicide by a student at their school.
“We couldn’t be more encouraged by the schools who have sought out help in dealing with the aftermath of a suicide,” Rasp said. “I think it shows that stigmas are decreasing just by their willingness to start a dialogue about it.
“We are super excited about some things coming up, too. We are planning our first 5K the last Saturday in August. We’re not necessarily trying to raise money through this 5K, but promote awareness. We hope to have the downtown streets filled with runners wearing our shirts and supporting the cause.”
The task force just got a new logo, thanks to Lydia Davis, a student in Cheryl Cooksey’s graphic arts class at Autry Technology Center. The students took the information provided by the task force and had a contest to design the logo.
There currently is no support group specifically for family of those who have completed suicide, but the task force is working on it. One of members has submitted a funding request to United Way that would help train a facilitator and get the group up and running.
Warning signs that warrant an immediate action by friend, relative or caregiver are: a stated desire to die or threats to hurt or kill themselves; seeking access to means (firearms, pills, rope, sharp weapons); someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.
Anyone witnessing these behaviors should call 911 or a mental health provider. Also available are trained personnel at the national suicide prevention hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Other risk factors are: hopelessness or a sense of being a burden to others; uncontrolled rage or anger; mood changes; reckless or risky behaviors without regard for safety; feeling trapped; increasing substance use; withdrawal from family or friends; recent transitions; previous suicide attempts; and family history of suicide.
Also important are protective factors: restricted access to lethal means including firearms, pills (including over-the-counter), sharp weapons and rope; cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide; access to effective mental health care; ability to effectively cope with stressors; and strong connections to family, friends, school and community.
Some information was taken from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which has a wealth of information about suicide prevention, online at www.sprc.org.