Opinion: Funds to prevent suicide sought
Over the past 10 years, Vermont’s suicide death rates have averaged 30 percent higher than the U.S. rates. It is the second leading cause of death of all Vermonters age 14-35 and the third leading cause for ages 35-44 and in the top 10 for all Vermonters.
It turns out that the idea “that if someone wants to kill themselves, they will find a way” is a myth. Studies that follow people who made serious suicide attempts find that more than 90 percent of them do not go on to die by suicide (Owens, 2002) when they are identified as suicidal and get effective treatment and follow-up services.
The Vermont Department of Mental Health has made a small new request of $72,000 to the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, which was removed from the House Budget. Presently the state allocates $100,000 for suicide prevention, a woefully small commitment to a pressing public health problem for which there are effective means of prevention if they can be adopted into best practice across multiple sectors: education, health care and community providers.
It is a complex problem that requires multiple solutions, and many people play an important role. The first place to start is to prioritize this very small request in the version of the Senate budget to be approved this week so we can build on the work we have done in Vermont to address this problem.
Richard Paul for the board of directors of the Center for Health and Learning, Brattleboro
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