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Four free public forums scheduled to tackle tough issue of teen suicide

Shining a light is what Sno-Isle Libraries hopes to do in hosting a series of four public forums about the causes, scope and prevention of teen suicide in Snohomish and Island counties. The events are part of Sno-Isle Libraries' "Issues That Matter" initiative designed to encourage conversations on topics that impact the community.
The forums will feature panels of experts and community members to discuss what can be done about teen suicide. Photo courtesy of Sno-Isle Public Libraries.

From a Sno-Isle Libraries news release.

Teen suicide is a dark issue, one that can be difficult for family members and loved ones to comprehend. It’s also a problem that experts say can shrink when light is shined upon it.

Shining a light is what Sno-Isle Libraries hopes to do in hosting a series of four public forums about the causes, scope and prevention of teen suicide in Snohomish and Island counties. The events are part of Sno-Isle Libraries' "Issues That Matter" initiative designed to encourage conversations on topics that impact the community. The events are scheduled for:

All events will start at 6:30 pm. They are open are to the public and free, with funding provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. The forums will feature panels of experts and community members to discuss what can be done about teen suicide.

One of those panelists will be Rena Fitzgerald, program manager for Care Crisis Chat run by Volunteers of America – Western Washington. “The suicide rate in Snohomish County is just about the highest it’s ever been. It’s more than a public health problem, it’s a crisis,” Fitzgerald said earlier this year.

Another participant will be Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. In June 2015, the Snohomish Health District released figures showing 13 young people had taken their own lives since September, 2014, more than double the annual number of previous years.

A 2014 survey of 11,852, sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in Snohomish County found significant numbers of students – from 16-21 percent depending on grade level – had seriously considered suicide. Nearly one in five surveyed students reported they did not have a parent or trusted adult that they feel comfortable confiding in or asking for help.

The health district has sent out fliers to school districts on what resources are available to help. The crisis line managed by Fitzgerald is open to people of all ages, but about half of the users are younger than 25.

Suicide prevention – for both youth and adults – was one of the top three issues of Snohomish County identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan. The plan aims to reduce the rate of suicide in Snohomish County from 14.6 per 100,000 to 10.2 per 100,000 by 2020.

Charlene Ray, Island County Mental Health clinical supervisor, will be participating at the Oak Harbor event on July 21. Island County Human Services provides a variety of mental health services including a school-based program in all four school districts of Island County; Oak Harbor, Coupeville, South Whidbey and Camano/Stanwood. Suicide prevention is among the concerns addressed by the program.

More information about the forums, along with library resources addressing the topic, is available online at sno-isle.org/issues-that-matter.

About Sno-Isle Libraries.

Sno-Isle Libraries serves 713,835 residents in Washington’s Snohomish and Island counties through 21 community libraries, online services, and Library on Wheels.

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