Local service providers and community members met Thursday to discuss prevention and an upcoming community training in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Wellness Committee has spent the past five and a half years working to decrease the number of people who end their lives in the SCV.
At College of the Canyons on Thursday, the group discussed active steps to combat suicide in the SCV, and how to connect people to local resources for help with mental illness and depression.
The discussion centered on active connections and checking up on all loved ones, even the “strong ones,” referring to those who don’t show obvious signs of being sad or depressed, but may be.
“Prevention isn’t always knowing the warning signs,” said Larry Schallert, chair of the committee and assistant director of Student Health and Wellness/ Mental Health at CoC.
The group discussed the usability of psychological autopsies, which are done in the SCV and especially emphasized when the suicidal individual was a child.
Psychological autopsies are a a tool certified by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, that involves collecting all available information on the deceased via interviewing their loved ones, Schallert said.
The committee is also actively discussing bringing in guests from other organizations in the future, such as Bridge to Home, the Oak Tree Gun Club and the Coroner’s Office.
The group’s Means Reduction Subcommittee, which works to examine the methods individuals use to commit suicide, had reached out to the Oak Tree Gun Club and others to coordinate future dialogue about how to safely handle guns with mentally ill or depressed individuals.
Dawnel DeRubeis, education program coordinator for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said community partnerships were vital to bridging gaps in understanding and alleviating the stigma behind mental health.
“The reality is, even though the statistics show it’s 1-in-5 that suffer from the illness, every person is affected,” she said. “I think by bridging those partnerships, it shows the community there doesn’t need to be a shame feeling behind if your family member or you yourself suffer from an illness. There’s these community members partnering together to strengthen resources and make it OK.”
The group also has a video subcommittee to plan for informational videos, which aim to spur community members to take action when they see warning signs and encourage anyone who is suicidal to ask for help.
No date has been set yet for the City Council presentation, although it will be sometime in September, Schallert said.
For those considering suicide, call the 24-hour prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.