Caring for our most vulnerable young adults

September 6, 2017

Suicide was the second-leading cause of death in 2015 for young people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More of our nation’s young men and women take their own lives each year than die from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, strokes, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

This week marks National Youth Suicide Prevention Week — culminating with World Suicide Prevention Day this Sunday, September 10 — and the time to draw attention to this issue, which continues to cut short so many promising young lives. Those who have come to our state’s health care facilities have taken the first step toward getting help, but it still takes a collective effort to properly care for these vulnerable individuals.

The program Zero Suicide offers a suite of resources for caregivers, and a framework for ending suicide among those seeking treatment. The approach is similar to that of reducing inpatient falls and medication errors. It focuses on system-wide teamwork, evidence-based practices and continuity of care from start to finish to ensure nobody falls through the cracks. The program is a key concept of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Read more about the Zero Suicide approach.WSHA has begun conversations with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility about jointly supporting providers and hospitals in engaging suicidal patients and their families about securing firearms as a way to reduce the suicide rate.

Suicide is entirely preventable, and the fact that it is so prevalent among our youth makes it all the more heartbreaking. I hope you’ll join me in helping spread awareness about this important issue this week, and help make sure we’re there for our youth.

Cassie Sauer
WSHA President & CEO


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