SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council on Wednesday announced new efforts to prevent people from taking their lives.
Following a series of community focus groups and online surveys, the council revised its Suicide Prevention Action Plan to include nine strategies on suicide mitigation. The new plan details universal interventions targeting the public; selective interventions focused on groups with high suicide risk, including older men, veterans, people with mental or substance abuse disorders as well as LGBTQ individuals; and indicated interventions for those at urgent risk of suicide.
Strategies include raising awareness, improving access to behavioral health services, improving connectedness between friends and families, encouraging a healthy sense of self and teaching skills to cope with change.
"Our goal is to create a community where everyone recognizes that they have a role to play in suicide prevention," said Alfredo Aguirre, director of county Behavioral Health Services. "Each of us should learn the warning signs of people considering ending their lives and encourage them to seek professional help."
Suicide is the leading cause of death in the county, according to officials. In 2016, 431 county residents committed suicide. San Diego County was the first in California to develop a countywide suicide prevention plan, according to local officials.
The council has taught nearly 15,000 people how to approach someone who might be contemplating suicide through its "Question, Persuade, Refer" training program, while more than 2,000 first-responders have been trained in suicide prevention using a special council curriculum. Training helps law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel provide appropriate and empathic care to those in distress.