State News

State Legislature takes hard look at suicide in Vermont

On Friday, Feb. 13, the public health issue of suicide in Vermont will take center stage at the Vermont State House, during a day of advocacy and recognition of ongoing suicide prevention efforts.  From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. representatives of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, Vermont Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and other key partners including suicide survivors, will be at the State House for a variety of advocacy and awareness activities.

This event is sponsored by the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, the Vermont Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Rep. Anne Donohue, with support from Rep. Joanne Cole. The public is invited to attend and participate in the day.

With a suicide rate 10 percent higher than the national average and 20 percent higher than the overall suicide death rate for the New England region, Vermont has put forth great effort to address suicide risk and promote prevention. The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center has been formed, and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition meets once a quarter to assess the latest nationwide research and efforts, and move Vermont prevention forward.

The startling fact that 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness that may have benefited from treatment, underlines the need to build awareness that suicide is preventable.

A press conference will take place at 9 a.m. in the Cedar Creek Room to announce the Vermont Suicide Prevention Platform 2015: Across the Lifespan, and state suicide prevention initiatives Umatter and Zero Suicide. JoEllen Tarallo-Falk, Ed.D., MCHES, director of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, and Linda Livendale, survivor, chair of the Vermont Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will address the press and take questions.

At 9:30 a.m. Vermont suicide prevention partners will be recognized on the floor of the Senate and House, with awareness and action resolutions presented regarding the importance of addressing mental health issues, reducing the stigma associated with using mental health services, and supporting the five-year strategic plan for suicide prevention and early intervention.

A brief panel presentation on suicide prevention in Vermont will take place during lunch at the Capitol Plaza. Panel members include Tarallo-Falk; Thomas Delaney, Ph.D., Vermont Child Health Improvement Program; suicide survivors; and student representatives of “Active Minds,” a university-level initiative promoting student mental health awareness and support.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, or if you are concerned for a friend or family member, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

For more information about the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center or Legislative Advocacy Day, please call Nicole Miller at 802-254-6590.

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