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St. Charles 2017-19 community benefit focus: suicide prevention

July 6, 2017

BEND, Ore. - Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the eighth leading cause of death in Oregon, according to the Centers for Disease Control. To help combat this preventable public health tragedy, suicide prevention will be St. Charles Health System’s community benefit focus for the 2017-2019 funding cycle.

“We’re proud to come alongside the community to support the vital work being done around suicide prevention,” said Lisa Dobey, executive director of community engagement at St. Charles. “By investing in organizations that educate and create meaningful connections for people, we can help build protection for those most at risk.”

As part of the Community Benefit program, St. Charles will fund local organizations that offer suicide prevention programs. Later this year, the health system will also have a competitive process to award funds to organizations providing protective factors for suicide prevention, focusing on programs that build social connection and resiliency.

As part of its overall suicide prevention efforts, St. Charles is also participating in the Safe Schools Alliance’s Hope and Help series, which continues July 17 and 26 at La Pine High School and Barnes Butte Elementary, respectively.

“We all have this idea that ‘it won’t happen to me,’” said Leanna Leyes, a St. Charles caregiver whose teenage son died by suicide in 2014. “But we can’t keep our heads in the sand. There are signs to watch for and there are problem-solving options we can teach our youth.”

Suicide prevention was identified as a priority based on the 2017-2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, which brought together population health data, input from community members, community survey results and analysis of available community resources to address health needs. As a result, the Board of Directors has tasked St. Charles with reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties.

Within St. Charles, depression screening, suicide risk assessments and referrals to behavioral health providers will be further formalized and standardized to provide the most effective care for at-risk patients. This week, St. Charles is also implementing the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), a new evidence-based suicide screening protocol that is recommended by the Joint Commission. The screening tool uses plain language questions for in-depth assessment of patients.

“There is hope: suicide is considered a preventable public health problem,” said Molly Wells Darling, St. Charles Health System’s director of inpatient behavioral health. “By marshalling our resources as a health system and working together with our community partners, we can make a difference. We all have a role in helping to decrease the stigma around suicide and seeking help. When we talk more openly it, we make it easier for our family, friends, coworkers and neighbors to access the help and resources they need.”

If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK [8255] or the Deschutes County Health Services 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at (541) 322-7500, ext. 9. You may also text ‘273TALK’ to 839-863

About St. Charles Health System

St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, Ore., owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,200 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.