Suicide exacts an enormous toll from Hawaii's people; 128 lives are lost to this tragedy each year (one person every three days), and another 870 are hospitalized after attempting to take their own lives. Suicide-related hospitalizations cost an estimated $12.3 million dollars annually. Nationally, about 30,000 people die by suicide every year. The devastating trauma, loss, and suffering are multiplied in the lives of family members and friends. Only recently, however, have the knowledge and tools become available to approach suicide as a preventable public health problem with realistic opportunities to save many lives.
To address this very serious issue, the Injury Prevention and Control Program (IPCP) supported a 10-member multi-disciplinary team to attend the Region IX suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) training in Portland Oregon in February 2005. The conference provided an opportunity for members of the Hawaii team to draw from local and national expertise, learn from participants in other states, and come together to make priorities to move suicide prevention efforts forward in Hawaii. These individuals represented diverse organizations and agencies in the private and public sector, including the military and a survivor, and became the core of a Steering Committee that was formed the next month.
The Suicide Prevention Steering Committee started meeting to serve in an advisory role to the Department of Health and to later support a larger Suicide Prevention Task Force which was launched in February 2006. The Task Force is responsible for collaborating on the development and implementation of a state action plan based on the Hawaii Injury Prevention Plan Suicide Prevention Recommendations. Members also share their expertise and experience in suicide prevention to expand the knowledge base, encourage information exchange and develop resources. The IPCP staffs both the suicide Prevention Steering Committee and Task Force.
Currently, IPCP in collaboration with the Suicide Prevention Task Force and other DOH programs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division and Adult Mental Health Division):
• Supported the training of a core group of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) trainers who train community “gatekeepers.”
• Is conducting statewide ASIST training. ASIST is a two-day training designed to prepare gatekeepers to provide suicide first aid: identifying those at risk for suicide, assessing the level of care needed, and referring individuals to the appropriate community resources. The overall goal is to reduce attempts and the number of suicides
• Is planning the first annual statewide Suicide Prevention Conference on November 15-16, 2007 to bring stakeholders together to increase their knowledge of suicide prevention best practices. This conference will enable participants statewide to network to promote interagency collaboration and to leverage community resources for suicide prevention.
Training Opportunity Notice: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)