DTAC Bulletin: Preventing Suicide at the Community Level


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Healthier Together: Preventing Suicide at the Community Level

September marks National Suicide Prevention Month, but suicide is a pressing public health issue throughout the year. Disasters may increase suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts. Individuals affected by disaster may also experience several risk factors for suicide, such as job or financial loss, loss of relationships, and lack of social support and health services.

Following are resources you can use to ensure that suicide prevention is part of your disaster preparedness and response efforts; to refer people to sources of information and support; and to develop suicide prevention programs for college students, senior living communities, and American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Suicide and Disasters
This collection of resources from the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) features materials that first responders, school staff, and others can use to weave suicide prevention into disaster preparedness and response. The collection includes guidebooks, training, suicide prevention programs and organizations, helplines, and tools for rapid assessment and referral of people who may be at risk of suicide.

Traumatic Stress and Suicide After Disasters
In this issue of the Supplemental Research Bulletin, SAMHSA DTAC reviews research on the relationship of disasters to suicidal thoughts, plans, attempts, and completed suicides. The issue also covers research on factors that may protect disaster survivors from a behavioral health standpoint or make them more vulnerable to suicide, suicidality, and traumatic stress. Some findings—for example, that increases in suicidality may occur among survivors several months after a disaster—run counter to what you might expect and have implications for disaster response programs.

2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: How You Can Play a Role in Preventing Suicide
This fact sheet presents basic suicide statistics, identifies groups of people who are at greater risk than others for suicidal behavior, lists warning signs, and provides tips for helping someone you think may be at risk for suicide.

SAMHSA Tools and Referral Resources

People can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or via SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746) for emotional support for distress, including suicidality, following disasters of all types. SAMHSA also supports the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Additionally, SAMHSA offers the Behavioral Health Disaster Response Mobile App, which responders can use to provide post-disaster support, including support for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, planning, or attempts.

For American Indian/Alaska Native Populations

To Live To See the Great Day That Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults
This guide from SAMHSA is designed to help American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in developing and implementing suicide prevention plans that emphasize promotion of mental health. It includes sections on promoting mental health within AI/AN cultural contexts, on beginning community conversations about suicide, and on responding to suicides, as well as lists of promising programs and a wealth of resources to use in suicide prevention work.

National AI/AN Hope for Life Day Toolkit
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention offers this toolkit for AI/AN communities to help them raise awareness of the issue of suicide, start conversations in their communities, and build hope for community mental health and resilience. The toolkit contains fact sheets, templates for involving tribal leaders, information about involving youth in the observance, and outreach materials.

For Schools and Colleges

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention Resource Center provide this collection of information and resources for schools affected by a student's suicide. Sections cover prevention of cluster suicides (groups of suicides or suicide attempts that occur around the same time, often in the same place, that are more than you would expect, based on statistics), crisis response for schools, and ways to help students cope and collaborate with the community in responding.

Responding to Suicide Clusters on College Campuses
Produced by SAMHSA and the JED Foundation, this webinar discusses suicide clusters on college and university campuses. It also includes case studies, as well as ideas for preventing suicide and suicide clusters on campus and supporting campus communities after a suicide has occurred.

For Older Adults

Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Living Communities
Developed for managers, staff, and residents in senior living communities, this SAMHSA toolkit notes that older adults are at higher risk for suicide than the general population and presents guidance for mental health promotion and suicide prevention in senior communities, a trainer's manual, and fact sheets for community residents.

Questions About the SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin?

The SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin is a monthly newsletter used to share updates in the field, post upcoming activities, and highlight new resources. For more information, please contact:

CAPT Erik Hierholzer

Reference in this email to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by SAMHSA. SAMHSA is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" webpage referenced in this email.

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