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NH Mental-Health Experts Promote "Zero Suicide" Campaign

In 2018, a government study reported that suicide rates rose nearly 50 percent in New Hampshire over a 17-year period. (Pixabay)
In 2018, a government study reported that suicide rates rose nearly 50 percent in New Hampshire over a 17-year period. (Pixabay)
October 17, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire mental-health experts believe even one suicide in the state is too many, and that's why they're implementing the "Zero Suicide" program to reach those at risk.

The program identifies suicide prevention as a core responsibility of health care, which means providing training for people in all roles within a health-care organization.

Kristen Kraunelis, director of quality improvement at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, said a zero-suicide approach is a call to action that mobilizes all resources.

"Our goal certainly is zero, and it's a very audacious goal," she said, "but we are working to look at the system and figure out what is within our control that we can make a positive impact on this outcome."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this year that New Hampshire's suicide rate increased by 48 percent between 1999 and 2016.

Patricia Carty, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the mental health center, said mandatory training guidelines for those who interact with vulnerable people create a more holistic and comprehensive approach. They also better prepare the state to help people at risk live more comfortable lives.

"Whenever you strive for 'zero,' you open up the possibility of surfacing different ideas and approaches than if you were only designing a program for 90 percent," she said.

The Zero Suicide goal is a collaborative effort of multiple health organizations across the state. Kraunelis said it will get more attention next month when mental-health professionals come together for the 15th annual Suicide Prevention Conference. This year's theme is, "It's OK to Talk About It."

"It makes everything feel worse when you feel like you're not able to talk about it, that you're alone in it," she said. "A big part of suicide prevention is building connection, and that's a protective factor. So, when people are well connected, that actually helps protect them against suicide."

The conference will be held Nov. 1 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord and is open to the public. Register online at naminh.org.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NH