Priority Area: Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention has been an important priority for Columbia Pacific CCO (CPCCO) since it was identified as a community need in 2014 with the first regional health needs assessment. Overall, Oregon has a higher rate of suicide than the national average, while suicide rates in Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties are even higher than the state average. Our current 2020-2024 Regional Health Improvement Plan (RHIP) continues to keep suicide prevention at the forefront, as one of the eight priority areas to improve health and well-being in the region. Our goal is to increase knowledge of and destigmatize suicide, with the hope to ultimately lower suicide rates.

Efforts to reduce suicide are happening in the region through many avenues. In 2018, Columbia Health Services in Columbia County applied for and received, a grant for just under $94,000 to help them develop suicide prevention work in the county. Columbia Health Services initiated this work after a cluster of teen suicides occurred. They quickly worked to convene the community around a task force for suicide prevention, which continues to meet and work towards a community-coordinated response.

Columbia Health Services suicide prevention grant also funds a coordinator who oversees some of these activities. This role is responsible for bringing the task force together, providing trainings on suicide prevention and coordinating with community agencies to help strategically address and respond to suicide and suicide prevention activities. To date, over 350 Columbia County residents have been trained in suicide prevention, and six organizations have adopted employee trainings in suicide prevention. Additionally, Columbia Health Services works with local high schools to implement a peer-supported suicide prevention program called Sources of Strength. St Helens School District will be the first district to pilot the program.

The overarching goals for the Columbia County task force focus around community awareness, decreasing stigma, and training community members to talk about and support those having thoughts of suicide or who are impacted by suicide. In March, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the task force hosted a community meeting where further strategies were discussed to ensure that community members know about the resources and crisis supports available to them. When COVID-19 hit, the team pivoted and now suicide prevention trainings are provided virtually. The task force is working on ways to engage and support the community in areas such as outreach and referral to services, in order to help address gaps in care throughout specific populations.

As we work on suicide prevention as part of the health improvement plan, our goal is to support suicide prevention efforts in all three counties. Building on the great work being done in Columbia County, we are actively working to increase the number of community members trained in suicide prevention and support. The intention of this work is to increase understanding and awareness of crisis response, while supporting coordinated community-specific responses to suicide and suicide prevention activities.

Questions about Columbia Pacific CCO’s work to support suicide prevention in your community? Contact Teresa Lavagnino at lavagninot@careoregon.org.

To see the full Regional Health Improvement Plan, click here.

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