HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. >> The Rensselaer County Suicide Prevention Task Force has been quickly established itself as a publicly available resource since it unveiled its "Suicide Postvention Response Team" last year.
Now, RCSPT is hoping to develop a three to five year county-wide suicide prevention plan. To gauge the needs it must address in the coming years, the task force is conducting forums with mental health professionals and the greater community to see where the county is underserved, which started with a meeting in Troy two weeks ago.
The Hoosick Armory Youth Center and Community Coalition, or HAYC3, 80 Church St., is hosting one more strategic planning community forum on Thursday, Feb. 12, with RCSPT, former director for the Suicide Prevention Center of New York, Fred Merserzey, as well as health and human services professionals from around the county. The forum will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
More than that, RCSPT Co-Chair Amy Molloy, who is also involved with Heroes At Home of Rensselaer County, said she is encouraging anyone and everyone who has been affected by suicide or works with suicide, to attend, whether they be friends and families of loved ones that have committed or attempted suicide, or first responders and medical professionals that deal with suicide in their jobs.
Anyone should attend the forum; anyone who wants to contribute to coming up with solutions to reduce the risk of suicide in the greater Hoosick community
"We wanted to make sure we were hearing from multiple perspectives, so we are coming to Hoosick Falls, where these health resources are not as available," Molloy said. "We are hoping our strategy will be able to make a difference in serving people from every corner of the county."
Another piece of the forum is that RCSPT is making rural communities like Hoosick aware of the risk of suicide, and making them aware that resources like the postvention response team, are available.
"We know this kind of support helps people," Molloy said. "When it happens, sometimes it is not reported or poorly reported in the media, and it affects a community. When people see it in their community, those that may be considering suicide themselves, that may make them see it as a real option."
National suicide deaths actually rose slightly for the fifth consecutive year, from 12.1 per 100,000 in 2010, to 12.3 per 100,000 in 2011, according the the Center for Disease Control's data and statistics of fatal injury. Also, men are historically and presently, almost four times as likely to commit suicide than women.
Molloy said that suicide data can be quite inconclusive, so using a county-wide statistical analysis is not a proactive way of targeting needs for reducing the risk of suicide. That's why all input at the forum is very important.
"Suicides are generally, vastly underreported," Molloy said. "They may be reported or described as something else. Also, there is no recordkeeping of suicide attempts. We are trying to establish communication between mental health professionals, first responders, and make sure schools and hospitals are talking to eachother."
The Rensselaer County Suicide Prevention Task Force is a coalition of a dozen Rensselaer County health and human services representatives, dedicated to establishing a network and implementing strategies to reduce risk of suicide among different groups.
The RCSPT is currently developing a website, but in the meantime, find the task force on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcspt, for more information.
Call Tom Momberg at 802-447-7567, ext. 118.