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Mailing Address: WSCOS c/o Live Wilder Foundation | 800 West Main Street #1460 | Boise, ID 83702
Location of Conference: Boise State University - Jordan Ballroom | 1700 West University Drive | Boise, ID 83725
In the News
Boise - Folks from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered in Boise Friday, June 23, to discuss a public health problem facing Idaho and its neighboring states, during the third annual Western States Conference on Suicide at Boise State University.
The suicide rate is staggering in the American West -- and in Boise, nearly 300 attendees discussed mental health awareness, education and training related to suicide prevention.
"It's an opportunity, really, for the Pacific Northwest region to really collaborate together because we're all facing the same sort of issues in our states," said Stewart Wilder, event organizer and President of The Wilder Foundation.
The goal of the conference is to help reduce the stigma of mental health issues and suicide. In Idaho alone, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 34.
Guest speaker, Dr. David Sheehan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of South Florida's College of Medicine, has spent his entire career involved in psychiatric research. In the past, he says, people focused on suicide being related to depression and other psychological factors; but he found that many suicides don't have a psycho-social cause.
"There are now being developed many specific, anti-suicidal medication treatments that can wipe out suicidality within 30 to 60 minutes," Sheehan said. "So there's an explosion as a result of this in the field of medical research -- trying to develop these treatments and save more people's lives."
But above all else, organizers say they hope attendees walk away from the conference with information on how to make a difference in their own communities.
"Having the opportunity to have conferences like this brings people together, but it also brings in other communities across the Pacific Northwest to be able to take these messages back and make a difference in their communities as well."
To learn more about the Western States Conference on Suicide, click here.
The Western States Conference on Suicide continues tomorrow at Boise State University. The speakers are outstanding. One of them joined us on the News at 4:00. Jenna Heise is an expert in suicide prevention from Texas. Details about this important conference are included in the interview. Remember, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The third annual Western States Conference on Suicide takes place Friday and Saturday at the Boise State University Jordan Ballroom. The conference, open to the public, addresses mental health awareness and education and training related to suicide prevention. National speakers will present on the latest advances in working with mental health and assessing and managing suicidal risk. "This conference will strengthen the resources available to all people and help to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and suicide," according to a press release. The conference is free, and registration is open until 9 p.m. June 21. Learn more and register at www.wscos.org.
Suicide is a major health crisis in Idaho and throughout the West. Suicides rates are significantly higher than in other areas of the United States for a number of reasons. These include the rural nature of the West, a significant lack of mental health access, funding and reimbursements, a culture of honor status (pull yourself up by the bootstraps), access to lethal means (firearms and medications), and stigma around suicide and mental illness that extends into our health care systems.
In response to an epidemic of suicide among our youths, veterans and other groups, we came to recognize that to fix it, we first have to talk about it — all of us, as a community, along with our community leaders. Thus began the annual community conferences on suicide.
On June 23, Boise State University will host the third annual Western States Conference on Suicide. Following the conference, on June 24, will be a day of training. As we have done in prior years, we will welcome our neighboring states as a Northwest Regional Conference of distinction: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
Through the BSU conference we aim to provide updates about suicide prevention efforts and other measures. Participants will leave the conference with a better knowledge of how they affect prevention, what “Zero Suicide” means, models of success and resiliency, and how each of us can implement facets from the conference into our own lives and professions.
You are invited to join us. If you have lost a friend or loved one to suicide, if you provide care for others, if you work with those at risk, then you should attend. There is no cost with the exception of a small fee for lunch. You just have to register at www.wscos.org. You’ll also find more information about the conference.
Mental health care is the core of the body; the most advanced organ known to man, but we give it the least attention. If we were to support brain health the way we amp up cancer and other physical diseases with advocacy, fun runs and community supports, we could actually prevent these very diseases of the brain from occurring, because we would treat the brain and the entire body together.
The Zero Suicide conference brought together about 500 health care professionals, law enforcement officers, people who have lost family members to suicide and others to talk about prevention.
Washington, Idaho and Montana have suicide rates that are higher than the national average. The reasons behind the high rates are complex, said Karl Rosston, Montana’s suicide prevention coordinator. Isolation in rural communities, weather, poverty, alcoholism rates and lack of access to mental health care providers are contributing factors.
Stuber was one of the speakers at the recent Zero Suicide Inland Northwest conference at Gonzaga University. This isn’t her first foray into turning prevention ideas into legislation.
Stuber is to be commended for turning her tragedy into laws that have put the state at the forefront (her group is called Forefront) of suicide prevention. Gun advocates are to be commended for not automatically hanging up on her.
Marny Lombard refers to suicide as "the hidden epidemic."
Lombard, an organizer of Tuesday's Achieving Zero Suicide for Our Inland Northwest Communities Conference at Gonzaga University in Spokane, hopes the first regional event of its type will shed light on suicide.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, will draw local, regional and national leaders as speakers.
Lombard lost her son, 22, to suicide in April 2013. After nearly 10 years at Gonzaga as editor of the alumni magazine, she changed her focus to advocacy for suicide prevention.
"I knew he dealt with thoughts that were suicidal; I tried to get him all the help that I could and it wasn't enough," said Lombard, adding that multiple speakers at the conference have had relatives commit suicide. "It pushes us to try to help others."