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Suicide prevention website launches for Californians

Jennifer Manalili

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As part of a Suicide Prevention Initiative, the state of California has recently launched a suicide prevention website. Done through the California Mental Health Services Authority’s (CalMHSA) Know the Signs campaign, anyone can now log on to www.suicideispreventable.org.

“Pain isn’t always obvious,” the site says. “Though the warning signs may be subtle. They are there.”

In 2010, 3,823 Californians took their own lives, and another staggering number of 16,425 people were hospitalized for self-inflicted injuries.

The statewide marketing campaign focuses on suicide prevention. It recognizes that for individuals feeling depressed or suicidal, it may seem difficult to reach out to their community or ask for help. Therefore, the campaign speaks directly to those who are most likely to see the signs of suicide and respond appropriately, like family and friends.

The site prepares Californians to help prevent suicide by encouraging them to know the warning signs for suicide, find the words to offer someone they may be concerned about and the resources to help them reach out.

“These facts are a grim reminder of the need for prevention and early intervention programs in California,” said Stephanie Welch, program manager for CalMHSA. “…Know the Signs serves as a way for us to educate our communities on how to play a role in the prevention and early intervention process by reaching out to loved ones who may be at risk for suicide.”

The Know the Signs section of the site points out different warning signs, including evident anxiety, sudden mood changes, withdrawal and changes in sleep or restlessness. The individual in question may be talking about wanting to die or commit suicide, and express a feeling of hopelessness and desperation or detail that they may be feeling trapped.

“While the signs for suicide can be subtle, they are there,” said Anara Guard, suicide prevention advisor for the campaign. “The campaign goals are to educate people on what those signs are, to recognize them when they are present and how to intervene early before the situation becomes critical.”

Find the Words refers users to ways to start the conversation with someone they are concerned about; instructing them to listen, express concern, be reassuring, create a safety plan and get help from an outside source.

Reaching Out offers users national and county resources that can help them access, treat and intervene in different cases. The campaign reassures that there are many resources available to help people.  As long as, someone is willing to reach out, including ways to access crisis lines, counselors and intervention programs for those who are experiencing emotional crisis or know someone that is. Other resources include help for anyone who has lost someone to suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and even a way to receive training in suicide prevention.

While the media campaign will launch statewide next month with English and Spanish TV spots, billboards and print ads, the website is now live.

The campaign was funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act or Proposition 30, and administered by the CalMHSA, an organization of county governments that are working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA operates services and education programs on a statewide, regional and local basis.

The campaign is just one of several contracts awarded to realizing the goals and objectives of the Suicide Prevention Initiative. Other statewide efforts funded by the MHSA include Stigma and Discrimination Reduction and Student Mental Health.

The campaign has been funded since September 2011 and will continue to be funded through June 2014.

It aims to achieve the following goals: Prepare more Californians to prevent suicide by increasing knowledge of warning signs and how to offer help and local resources, provide individuals who are going through tough times with resources and work with the news media to increase reporting about suicide in ways that are consistent with national recommendations.

Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. or www.yourvoicecounts.org to be a part of the campaign or other suicide prevention efforts.

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The news site of San Diego City College
Suicide prevention website launches for Californians