Resources Available in Sheridan County for Suicide Awareness

Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center

It may not an easy topic to talk about, but just addressing the issue of suicide may be a large part of its prevention. Melinda Fairbanks, suicide case manager with the Department of Veteran's affairs, says that a big part of awareness is understanding that talking about suicide is not always a bad thing because sometimes it may be needed in order to direct people to sources of help.

The VA offers an operation safe training program that educates anyone interested free of charge. Fairbanks says that it is important to know how to talk about the issue. The program teaches how to respond to someone in this type of conversation, in ways that make them realize if they need help or not.

Suicide Prevention Coalition: Statistics should be used to educate, promote awareness

In the most recent statistics from 2007, Wyoming ranks fourth overall for suicide rates in the US. Youth ages 15-25 and the elderly have the highest rates in the state, and white males 65 and older have the highest suicide rate nationwide. Prevention Coordinator for the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center, Vanessa Hastings, says while taking into account the statistics that show that suicide is a problem in Wyoming, her number one goal is awareness.

Hastings added that they are doing radio spots to spread their "Positive Community Norms" campaign which centers around help seeking. She said this data might include information that may surprise some people, but the goal of the campaign is to "reduce the gap between perceived norms and actual norms". The information was put together by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center.

Help can always be found by calling the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and 911 should always be called in an emergency. Hastings said that the NWMHC is always available for those with questions or who need help at 672-8958.

Upcoming Events:
Suicide Awareness week is Sept. 4-10
-Sept. 6
Booth at Sheridan College 10 am to 2 pm
Community operation SAVE training at Sheridan YMCA 5 pm

-2nd Annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Wyo. Out of the Darkness Walk on Sunday Sept. 11 in Downtown Sheridan starting on Grinnell Plaza
As of Wednesday Aug. 17 the SCSPC has 31 sponsors for the event, with 26 walkers and $7,335 in funds raised. Their goals are is 250 walkers and $30,000.