That seems to be what they found in Oregon. And according to this article it’s something that more local agencies are trying to identify as well.
In Oregon, what they found when they started looking into the rise in the rates of suicide, was that they didn’t really have any more information than that. So Kimberly Repp spent a year just following along on death investigations, trying to get as much information as she could about the people who dies by suicide in the county at that time. What she wound up gathering was a really good look at something that often gets overlooked, because no one is collecting the data. She found some of what these people were doing on the last day, or days, of their life, and identified people who might be able to notice what is happening, and do something about it.
The data they found wouldn’t necessarily translate to other areas, but I think what they found is interesting in terms of thinking about how many people, common, everyday people, going about their daily jobs, might be able to make a difference if they’ve been trained to notice and respond to someone who may be having suicidal thoughts. Not just therapists, social workers, or doctors either.
“We were able to identify touchpoints in our community that we had not seen before,” Repp said.
For example, data revealed a surprising number of suicides at hotels and motels. It also showed a number of those who killed themselves had experienced eviction or foreclosure or had a medical visit within weeks or days of their death. It revealed that people in crisis regularly turn their pets over to the animal shelter.
So they started offering training to a whole different group of people:
The training is typically offered to people like counselors, educators or pastors. But with the new data, the county realized they were missing people who may have been the last to see the decedents alive. They began offering the training to motel clerks and housekeepers, animal shelter workers, pain clinic staffers and more.
This is why, when I had the opportunity to take a basic suicide prevention course earlier this year I did. Because you just never know where these touchpoints may come. Most locations don’t have the kind of data they’ve gathered up in Washington County Oregon. We don’t know what kinds of things people in crisis will spend their time doing. Maybe it’s getting one last nice meal, or making sure their pets are taken care of, or traveling somewhere else. Regardless, we should do a lot more work like this to try and identify those things, but we also just need to have more people aware, alert, and able to respond to someone in crisis. That’s what will get the rates starting to go down, doing the things that we know save lives.
And the more people capable of shepherding someone through that crisis and diverted to help like the 1- (800) 273 – TALK Lifeline, the more lives we can potentially save.
Isn’t that worth spending some time in training?