According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-34. In 2019, there were nearly two and a half times as many suicides (47,511) in the United States as there were homicides (19,141). According to suicide mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon had the ninth highest deaths by suicide per 100,000 people in 2019, a total of 906 deaths.

While progress is being made on other public health concerns, suicide remains disturbingly high. To increase awareness and education, the Gorge has been a registered site for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day since 2011. This event is hosted on alternate years by Hood River County Prevention Department and Wasco County YouthThink.

This year’s event on Nov. 20 is hosted by Hood River County Prevention Department. The two-hour program offers support, networking, and resource connection to people who have lost a loved one to death by suicide, either recently or anytime in the past. It will be held at the Columbia Gorge Community College Hood River Campus in room No. 310 from 10 a.m. until noon. There is no cost, and anyone can attend.

From the Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event in 2019 a group was formed for those interested gathering and sharing and supporting each other. This Survivors of Suicide Loss group meets monthly on the second Tuesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. For updated information and meeting status, contact Belinda.Ballah@hoodrivercounty.gov; 541-387-6890.

There is still a stigma around suicide that poses barriers to both prevention and treatment. Everyone can make a positive difference in suicide prevention by speaking up, being supportive of those in distress and connecting them with help. One way to do that is to take a Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) workshop. QPR will teach you to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to offer hope, and how to get help and save a life. Trainings are offered by the Hood River County Prevention Department to organizations and groups throughout the Gorge.

Contact Belinda.ballah@hoodrivercounty.gov for information.