News Article Details

Suicide postvention team now serving Clinton Co.

Press-Republican - 4/3/2017

April 02--PLATTSBURGH -- The Clinton County Suicide Postvention Response Team is now up and running.

The group of skilled, trained volunteers was born from the efforts of an ad hoc committee of the Clinton County Community Services Board, Board President Richelle Gregory said, and went live Saturday.

Their goal is to provide "postvention services to families, faith-based groups, schools and work places, etc., who have lost a loved one to suicide in Clinton County" in order to promote healing and reduce risk, according to a Clinton County Coalition to Prevent Suicide press release.

"Why postvention? Because it serves as a powerful prevention strategy," Coalition Chair Amanda Bulris said at a recent press conference.

DEBUNK MYTH

Response Team Coordinator Bonnie Black said some people have asked why the team chose to launch on April 1.

"We have specifically chosen that date to debunk the myth that the majority of suicides happen in November and December."

Data on the seasonality of suicide shows that most occur February through July, peaking in April and May.

The group is made up of two four-person teams and Support Team Coordinator Tamara Landry Cowan.

All are trained in prevention and postvention, and some are trained in intervention, Black said.

"We need to respond better as a community to situations where someone has chosen suicide."

ONLY IF REQUESTED

The plan is to have the two teams alternate with one another to prevent burnout.

Black, Nicholas Dubay, Mary Skillan and Storm Treanor make up Team 1; Amanda Bulris, Kelly Donoghue, Thomas Doyle and Bryan Hartman comprise Team 2.

They will only respond when invited, Black said. As team coordinator, she receives the requests, made by phone.

The team then decides how it is of value to the situation.

"We'll get back to the person who has requested us to respond or explain why we're not appropriate" and direct that person to the proper resources, Black said.

WORSENING TREND

The Clinton County team's launch was preceded by that of the Warren Washington County Suicide Prevention Coalition'sPostvention Response Team at the end of last year.

"We believe, from what we have been told, that we're the second one in New York state to have an official response," Black said.

The Clinton County Legislature passed a resolution officially recognizing the team at a meeting in March.

In 2011-13 data that excludes New York City, Clinton County had four times the number of suicides as the statewide average, Black said.

And informal information from 2016 shows that trend is worsening, with the county having five times the statewide average.

AWARENESS

The hope is that, through initiatives like the Postvention Response Team, more people will talk about suicide and take advantage of educational opportunities on topics such as prevention, intervention and youth mental-health first aid.

"None of the trainings make you a professional; it's about awareness," Black said.

About 90 percent of those who choose to end their lives by suicide have mental-health and/or substance-abuse issues, she said.

"We know that substance abuse contributes to people seeing no hope to live, the same as mental health," Black said.

"If we can deal with mental health and substance abuse, we will reduce the number of suicides."

BE THE HERO

The Anti-Stigma Coalition of Clinton County and the Clinton County NY Coalition to Prevent Suicide are sponsoring several awareness events over the next two months.

In May 2016, around 600 people got tattoos at Body Art Tattoo and Piercing as part of the Plattsburgh Semicolon Event.

According to the Project Semicolons website, "a semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to."

And that punctuation has come to represent continuing on despite suicidal thoughts, severe depression or other mental illness.

While one-time events like that can get people excited about the cause, that energy can fizzle out and wear on the businesses putting them on, Bulris said.

On April 21, a semicolon T-shirt workshop, part of "Be the Hero: Share Your Story," will take place at Plattsburgh Public Library.

In May, which is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a concert at Retro Live in Plattsburgh and a Semicolon Hero Run at Banker's Orchard are planned.

Bulris said the coalitions may also incorporate blood drives into the events, since those who got tattoos are approaching the end of the state's required yearlong hiatus from blood donation.

That way, people can be heroes by both reducing stigma and giving blood, Bulris said.

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

CONTACT POSTVENTION TEAM

The Clinton County Suicide Postvention Response Team is accessible 24/7.

Call 1-800-724-0747 and ask for the suicide response team coordinator.

That line is also used for Employee Assistance Services.

UPCOMING EVENTS

"An Evening of Hope and Healing: Stories of Strength" will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24, at the Newman Center, 90 Broad St., Plattsburgh.

The Semicolon T-shirt Workshop will start at 2 p.m. Friday, April 21, at Plattsburgh Public Library.

Bring a shirt, hoodie or cape from home; Impeerium and NAMI-CV will provide the art supplies.

Learn about more events by visiting the "Clinton County NY Coalition to Prevent Suicide" Facebook Page.

WHERE TO GET HELP

There is help for anyone who is considering suicide.

For counseling:

Clinton County Mental Health, 565-4060.

Behavioral Health Services North Adult Clinic, 563-8000 (staffed around the clock).

Essex County Mental Health Clinic, 873-3670; after-hour emergencies, (888) 854-3773.

Citizen Advocates, in northern Franklin County, around the clock, 483-3261; southern Franklin County, 891-5535.

For emotional crises:

The toll-free Clinton County suicide hot line number is (866) 577-3836.

Out-of-county calls are accepted but other options are:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255).

The Essex County Mental Health Association Hope Line, (800) 440-8074. That number is staffed 24-7; leave a message and your call will be returned within 10 minutes.

Mary Anne Cox holds a Suicide Survivors Support Group in Plattsburgh the second Wednesday of the month. Register with her ahead of time at 563-1141.

Visit the Clinton County NY Coalition to Prevent Suicide's Facebook page for education and resources.

If a friend of yours posts suicidal content on Facebook, let someone know -- an adult, the police. And visit http://tinyurl.com/nuvnm29 to report it.

For free, confidential, 24/7 crisis support, text 741741 or send a Facebook message to https://www.facebook.com/crisistextline/ to chat with a crisis counselor through Crisis Text Line.

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(c)2017 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)

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