North Idaho care providers work to heighten suicide awareness, prevention
It's an eye opening statistic: Idahohas the fourth highest suicide rate in the country and suicide is also the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 34 in the state.
Among counties across Idaho, Kootenai Countyhas one of the highest suicide rates in the state.
Between 2006 and 2010, 72 Idahoschool children took their own lives, according to the Suicide Prevention Action Network, and it's a problem that the community is coming together to try address.
"We're working with young teenagers to people in their 80s," Chaplain Dan Lynch said.
"We want to do something about it and figure it out. It's is the most preventable cause of death in the nation," Catherine Perusse with SPAN said.
Not a day goes by that Perusse forgets what happened 15 years ago, when her 24-year-old son died in Las Vegas.
"We got a call around 6:15 in the morning from the police he had jumped out of a 27th story window and that he was dead," she said.
There are questions that are still unanswered and a loss that will never go away.
"It just came the closest to destroying me [more] than anything ever has," Preusse said.
Eventually she joined the Suicide Prevention Action Network. Today she thinks Idaho's high suicide rate could be affected by three things: Access to mental health care, access to means to commit suicide and stigma.
In Post Falls the police department has a program that connects people to resources; so far this year they've fielded 25 calls.
"The most important thing that we tell them somebody cares," Dan Lynch said.
The Coeur d'Alene School District also trains students and staff on suicide prevention; there are also support groups and hotlines where the message is that there's hope and people who want to help.
"I don't want anyone to go through that alone if they [don't] have to," Perusse said.
Idaho is the only state without a statewide hotline, though the state legislature recently approved funding for that.
For more information on suicide prevention in North Idaho, check out the following resources:
Post Falls Police Department Suicide Awareness Program
Suicide Prevention Action Network
Suicide Survivor Group
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Hotline
Kootenai County24 Hour Crisis Line
Youth Crisis Line Project Safe Place
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