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National Suicide Prevention Week

By Crystal Staley/Sebastian Kitchen

Louisville, KY - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman joined mental health advocates and leaders from UofL Health - Peace Hospital to raise awareness and proclaim this National Suicide Prevention Week in the commonwealth, encouraging Kentuckians to take action if they know someone in crisis.

Tragically, last year 756 Kentuckians died by suicide, making it the state's 11th leading cause of death and 2nd among those ages 10-34.

"With the mental health challenges many people have faced during the pandemic, it is more important than ever to be supportive, to make sure they realize they are not alone, for us to know the signs and to take immediate action to help those in crisis," said Gov. Beshear. "Through the remainder of this pandemic and as we emerge, we must look out for our fellow Kentuckians and protect one another to prevent us from losing more beloved family members, friends and neighbors to suicide."

The Governor also said it is vital to reduce the stigma around mental health so more Kentuckians will seek help.

At UofL Health - Peace Hospital, the Governor signed the proclamation designating this National Suicide Prevention Week in the commonwealth. Hospital leaders and mental health advocates joined the Governor as he signed the proclamation.

Peace Hospital is among the largest behavioral health facilities in the nation, providing care for children, adolescents and adults. The hospital offers 24/7 no-charge assessments and support for all ages.

"The isolation and uncertainty caused by a global pandemic is unavoidable. But we must acknowledge how it has greatly affected the mental health of our students," said Lt. Gov. Coleman. "According to the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 15% of Kentucky high school students reported having seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period. We must all work together to solve this epidemic. I applaud UofL Health - Peace Hospital for being a vital partner in this work."

The hospital's leaders emphasized that suicide prevention demands immediate action. If someone says they are thinking about suicide, Kentuckians should:
  • Take them seriously;
  • Listen;
  • Don't leave them alone; and
  • Help them get to a professional for evaluation and treatment.
"More than 10 million Americans will have thoughts about suicide every year. We lost a heartbreaking 756 Kentuckians last year. One is too many," said Martha Mather, chief administrative officer of UofL Health - Peace Hospital. "It is important we talk about suicide and mental health. The more we talk about it, it reduces the stigma. And the more we know about it, the better prepared we are to step in to help."

In partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Louisville and the Louisville Health Advisory Board, Peace Hospital supports the goal of training 2,021 people in free suicide prevention (QPR) training. Register here for free QPR training in Jefferson County.

QPR - Question, Persuade, Refer - are the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis. The mission of QPR trainers is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing one of the most effective and widely taught suicide prevention skillsets.

Seeking Help

If you find yourself having suicidal thoughts, dial 911 immediately, go to a nearby hospital or:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK
  • Find crisis lines by county here
  • Visit Peace Hospital's Assessment and Referral Center for 24/7 no charge assessments: In Louisville: 502-451-3333. In Lexington and Eastern Kentucky: 859-313-3515.
Gov. Beshear has taken numerous actions to provide mental health services and resources for Kentuckians. In May, Kentucky received a $340,000 grant to build capacity for the upcoming transition to a nationwide 988 hotline, which will replace the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 800-273-8255.

Through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), Gov. Beshear has invested federal funding into Community Mental Health Centers to expand their crisis service capacity, with 10 of 14 now with the accreditation to provide crisis line services. CHFS has also trained rural clinicians in the Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk program, which has prepared 40 new QPR trainers who interact directly with rural Kentuckians, farmers and their families. As part of the Kentucky Emergency Response to Suicide Prevention Initiative, Kentucky is working with hospitals to provide Peer Support Specialists, who have lived experience with suicide attempts, to work with patients after an emergency room visit for a suicide attempt.

In 2020, Gov. Beshear announced a $2 million grant to treat Kentuckians suffering from mental health issues and substance-use disorders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a $4 million grant to enhance outpatient treatment services. Thanks to the Governor's Challenge Team, Kentucky is one of 27 states with a designated team that is developing and implementing statewide suicide prevention best practices for military service members, veterans and their families.

Lt. Gov. Coleman and the Education & Workforce Development Cabinet are also prioritizing the mental health of young people with a statewide series of roundtables in Kentucky schools to discuss student mental health.

This story was posted on 2021-09-07 17:24:14
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