Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Funds New Suicide Prevention Efforts

January 08, 2009
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Economic Challenges Raising Concerns of Increased Risk


Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced Thursday that new funding included in this year’s county budget will go toward new suicide prevention efforts, including training for health care professionals to better identify those at risk and new public education and training to help make sure more people who need help, receive it.


Falk was joined at a press conference to announce the new suicide prevention efforts by the head of Dane County Safe Communities and County Board Supervisor Dave de Felice, a leading advocate for including the new funding in the 2009 county budget.


“January is usually a high risk month for suicide because of post-holiday letdown and frigid weather, but this year families are being challenged more than ever,” Falk said.  “Moms and dads are working more, sleeping less, and trying even harder to stay ahead in this bad economy, and the last thing anyone wants is for these very sad struggles to turn into terrible tragedies,” Falk said.  “By reaching out and teaching more of our doctors, educators, law enforcement, and even our friends and neighbors the warning signs, we can hopefully help prevent tragedy for someone’s family member, friend, or loved one.”


Falk noted statistics showing there are more than 50 suicide deaths and about 430 injuries from attempted suicides in this county each year.  Figures also show nearly 90% of suicides involve individuals who suffer from mental illnesses like depression or substance abuse problems. 


The $10,000 in new county budget funding for suicide prevention will be used by Dane County Safe Communities’ Suicide Prevention Task Force.  The group will hold community “QPR,” or “Question Persuade, Refer” trainings this year to train laypeople on how to help someone who may be considering suicide.  The trainings will done monthly across the county. 


In addition, the Suicide Prevention Task Force will offer training for health care providers on the latest medical techniques used to assess patient risk of suicide.  The Task Force will also hold a conference this year where hundreds of school, youth, mental health, faith, and social workers will be trained on suicide prevention and intervention.


“Suicide is caused by an illness. And, mental illness, just like any other deadly disease - AIDS or cancer, for instance – can be prevented,” de Felice said. “We have to deal with it openly – drag this topic out of the closet - because prevention is the most effective way to deter suicide.”


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