Workshop helps educate on suicide prevention
A Lunch & Learn workshop titled “Stop the Stigma” was held at Palm Beach State College to help educate faculty, staff and students about suicide prevention.
More than 100 people attended the event, which was held Sept. 27 for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It was hosted by the Lake Worth Psychology & Human Services Club in partnership with the Hanley Foundation, Lake Worth Student Activities and the Student Counseling and Case Management Center.
It featured a presentation by PBSC alumna Allison Jimenez, a suicide prevention and youth mental health first aid trainer, on the Zero Suicide Initiative, a new project she is leading with the Hanley Foundation to train college students, professors and community members to recognize the signs of someone contemplating suicide. In addition, it aims to improve suicide care within health and behavioral health systems.
“The vast majority of suicides have warning signs and happen within 24 hours of release from a mental health facility,” said Jimenez.
As part of the initiative, Jimenez and a team of trained professionals visit mental health facilities and analyze their policies and procedures and make sure every staff member is trained in suicide prevention.
“We are training their staff. We are repairing their systems that are broken and we are restoring the original mission that these agencies had to make sure they are providing quality patient-centered care to people,” said Jimenez.
Jimenez also speaks at colleges and universities about suicide prevention and says that a big issue is that people do not know what to say or how to help someone contemplating suicide.
“Even if we see a celebrity who died by suicide, you don’t ever see people saying, man, that’s horrible for that person,” said Jimenez. “Instead, we hear what a coward, I can’t believe they would do that. What about their family and friends? They had children. The the reality is unless you’ve been in a state of mind where you feel that is your only way out, you could never understand what that person is going through.”
She also advocates for training in suicide prevention through the QPR Institute’s GateKeeper Training. There are two upcoming courses at 10 a.m. Oct. 3 and at 1 p.m. Oct. 4.
“Their courses teach you how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide, know what to say, how to say it and when to say it,” said Jimenez.
Jimenez also shared national data on the rise of suicide among ages 15 to 34 and teaches about warning signs that can be detected through a person’s talk, behavior and mood. Some examples that were given include:
An individual who:
- Talks about wanting to die
- Sleeps too much or too little
- Shows feelings of rage, anxiety, humiliation, irritability and depression
- Gives away prized possessions
- Withdraws from activities
- Increases their use of drugs or alcohol
- Talks about being a burden to others
- Isolates from family or friends
Jimenez also discussed the factors that contribute to suicide risk including previous suicide attempts, history of substance abuse, physical disability or illness, losing a friend or family member to suicide and ongoing exposure to bullying.
“When kids are bullied now, it follows them everywhere – at school, on their phone and on the internet,” said Jimenez. “They can never really escape this negativity.”
Among the event attendees were PBSC professor and Human Services department chair Dr. Suzanne Duff, who introduced Jimenez, Tiffany Gordon, a mental health professional with the Hanley Foundation’s Zero Suicide Initiative and Travis Owens who provided information on PBSC’s Student Counseling and Case Management Center.
The Psychology & Human Services Club also held a Stand Up to Suicide event on the Lake Worth campus earlier that day. Backpacks were placed along the hallway of the Social Science building to symbolize the estimated number of college students who die each year from suicide.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
To view photos of the events, click below.