“Thank You for Your Work”

New York state officials singled out The Sophie Fund as well as the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service this week for their leadership and commitment in promoting improved suicide prevention practices in Tompkins County.

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Tompkins County proclamation of suicide prevention month (September 2017): Lee-Ellen Marvin, executive director, Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service; Scott MacLeod, The Sophie Fund; Anna Kelles, Tompkins County legislator

In a March 26 letter addressed to the two Ithaca organizations, Jay Carruthers, director of the state Suicide Prevention Office, and Sigrid Pechenik, director of the state Suicide Prevention Center, also applauded the suicide prevention efforts of city and county officials and local mental health stakeholders.

“We thank you and applaud the efforts that have taken place in Tompkins County over the past year,” wrote Carruthers and Pechenik. “Under your leadership and commitment to make Tompkins County a suicide safer community, you introduced and pushed forward the state’s vision.”

The state officials said they particularly acknowledged “The Sophie Fund’s efforts to bring Zero Suicide into healthcare systems in Tompkins County.” They noted that The Sophie Fund organized a summit to introduce the Zero Suicide Model to county outpatient, inpatient, and college campus leadership; created a website page devoted to Zero Suicide resources; and asked the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition to form a committee to focus on Zero Suicide Model implementation.

Remarking on the “extraordinary progress” achieved over the past year, Carruthers and Pechenik added: “We consider Tompkins County and its newly formed Suicide Prevention Coalition an exemplary testament to vision, dedication and mobilization of community stakeholders.”

The letter highlighted The Watershed Declaration, a community pledge to intensify suicide prevention efforts; Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s proclamation recognizing suicide as a public health concern; and the Tompkins County legislature’s designation of September as suicide prevention month.

“As the New York State Prevention Plan states, ‘suicide prevention cannot succeed without community involvement and leadership.’ Thank you for your work,” Carruthers and Pechenik concluded.

Read the Full letter

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Download “1,700 Too Many: New York State’s Suicide Prevention Plan 2016–17”

Albany Lauds Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Steps

The Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition on Tuesday took concrete steps toward the adoption of the Zero Suicide Model for local suicide prevention, including the formation of a committee to coordinate future planning. Meanwhile, New York state officials hailed the “extraordinary progress” recently achieved in the county’s suicide prevention efforts.

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Sharon MacDougall leads a subgroup of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition

The coalition, holding its third meeting since the body was established last July, also made further progress on the development of a strategic plan to guide suicide prevention policies and practices in the community.

Sharon MacDougall, deputy mental health commissioner and coalition convener, announced the coalition’s decision to establish a five-member committee to coordinate discussion, collaboration, and possible implementation of the Zero Suicide Model. She also reported the coalition’s agreement to host a briefing on the model for the Tompkins County community at large in June.

The committee members are: Lee-Ellen Marvin and Sheila McCue, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Bev Chin, program director, Health Planning Council; Helen Kaplan, clinical director, Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County; and Sharon MacDougall, deputy mental health commissioner.

Scott MacLeod of The Sophie Fund presented a report to the coalition on the organization’s initiative to promote the Zero Suicide Model. MacLeod noted that The Sophie Fund, along with Ithaca’s Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, organized a four-hour expert briefing on Zero Suicide for Tompkins County’s senior healthcare leadership in October 2017 at The Statler Hotel.

MacLeod said that The Sophie Fund was encouraged by the generally positive responses it has received from all the Statler participants about committing their organizations to implementing the Zero Suicide Model and conducting an annual self-assessment study monitoring implementation.

According to MacLeod, David Evelyn, vice president for medical affairs at Cayuga Medical Center, stated to The Sophie Fund: “Cayuga Medical Center is committed to Zero Suicide and is currently studying what resources we need to implement. We are pursuing the self-assessment.”

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, MacDougall asked the coalition to observe a minute of silence in memory of Sophie Hack MacLeod, who died by suicide in Ithaca on March 26, 2016. Sophie was a fine arts student on a medical leave of absence from Cornell University at the time of her death. Her parents, Scott MacLeod and Susan Hack, established The Sophie Fund in 2016 to advocate for improved mental health for young people in Tompkins County.

In a related development, Jay Carruthers, director of the New York State Suicide Prevention Office, and Sigrid Pechenik, director of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York, applauded the “extraordinary progress” in suicide prevention in Tompkins County. They singled out several milestones, including the adoption of The Watershed Declaration, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s proclamation in support of suicide prevention, and the Tompkins County legislature’s designation of September as suicide prevention month.

The state officials also thanked The Sophie Fund and the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service for their “leadership and commitment to make Tompkins County a suicide safer care community.”

In a letter to The Sophie Fund and the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, they added: “We consider Tompkins County and its newly formed Suicide Prevention Coalition an exemplary testament to vision, dedication and mobilization of community stakeholders. Thank you for your work, and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

The Zero Suicide Model, sometimes called the Suicide Safer Care Model, holds that suicides can be prevented by closing cracks in healthcare systems—that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable.

Zero Suicide means making suicide prevention a core responsibility of healthcare. Specifically, this entails a systematic clinical approach in healthcare systems—training staff, screening for suicide ideation, utilizing evidence-based interventions, mandating continuous quality improvement, treating suicidality as a presenting problem—and not simply relying on the heroic efforts of crisis staff and individual clinicians.

Report: Update on the Zero Suicide Model

The Sophie Fund on Monday issued a report on efforts to implement the Zero Suicide Model for suicide prevention in Tompkins County. The organization will present the report at a meeting on Tuesday of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

The report noted that The Sophie Fund submitted a proposal to the coalition on December 7, 2017 calling on it to establish a committee made up of representatives of the community’s main health and behavioral health providers to promote and coordinate the implementation of the Zero Suicide Model.

The Zero Suicide Model, sometimes called the “Suicide Safer Care Model,” holds that suicides can be prevented by closing cracks in healthcare systems—that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable.

Zero Suicide means making suicide prevention a core responsibility of healthcare. Specifically, this entails a systematic clinical approach in healthcare systems—training staff, screening for suicide ideation, utilizing evidence-based interventions, mandating continuous quality improvement, treating suicidality as a presenting problem—and not simply relying on the heroic efforts of crisis staff and individual clinicians.

The Sophie Fund, along with Ithaca’s Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service and the New York State Suicide Prevention Office, organized a four-hour expert briefing on Zero Suicide for Tompkins County’s senior healthcare leadership on October 16, 2017 at The Statler Hotel.

The 11 invited and participating healthcare leaders represented the Tompkins County Mental Health Department; Cayuga Medical Center; Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca; Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Cornell University; Ithaca College; and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

According to the Sophie Fund’s “Report on the Zero Suicide Model In Tompkins County,” in December 2017, and in January and March 2018, The Sophie Fund asked the Statler participants to make commitments to implementing Zero Suicide and to conducting an annual self-assessment study monitoring implementation.

“While The Sophie Fund is encouraged by the generally positive responses it has received from all the Statler participants, it must report that to date none of the healthcare organizations has notified The Sophie Fund of a formal decision to make the commitments,” the report stated.

Zero Suicide is at the heart of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, released by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The NSSP’s Goal 8 is to “promote suicide prevention as a core component of healthcare services.” Goal 9 is to “promote and implement effective clinical and professional practices for assessing and treating those at risk for suicidal behaviors.”

Zero Suicide is explicitly embraced by the New York State Suicide Prevention Plan 2016–17, entitled 1,700 Too Many. Implementing Zero Suicide in health and behavioral healthcare settings is the first pillar of the suicide prevention strategy outlined in the plan. The second pillar is to “create and strengthen suicide safer communities.”

More than 40 representatives from local mental health organizations established the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition last July to foster greater collaboration and coordination in fighting suicide.

Click here to read “Report on the Zero Suicide Model In Tompkins County”

March For Our Lives

“We, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities. And this is only the beginning.” — Parkland school shooting survivor and activist Emma González.

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At a time of broken leadership in America, and on so many levels, it is truly stirring to witness the #neveragain movement led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida along with legions of other young Americans.

They’re smart, eloquent, poised, and committed. And they’re determined to act and get results. The focus is on gun control, but this is a movement that will do much more to make the world a safer, better place.

Millions will take part in the historic March For Our Lives on Saturday March 24 in Washington and across the country. Ithaca’s march culminates with a rally in the Commons at 2 p.m.

Emma González is probably right—this is only the beginning. Here’s an extract of the powerful essay she wrote for Teen Vogue this week:

I was born in 1999, just a few months after 13 people were left dead after a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. From 1966 to the Valentine’s Day that my school proved to be less than bulletproof, nearly 1,100 people have been killed in mass public shootings in the U.S.. From the deaths of 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, to the 2016 massacre of mostly Latinx people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, to the loss of 58 lives at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas last year, we’ve seen mass shootings play out again and again and again.

Gun violence has torn up many communities across the country, mainly due to negligence on behalf of local and national government to properly regulate access to guns, ignorance to their constituents’ varying situations, and willingness to take money from organizations that very clearly do not have the best intentions for the future of the United States.

We Stoneman Douglas students may have woken up only recently from our sheltered lives to fight this fight, but we stand in solidarity with those who have struggled before us, and we will fight alongside them moving forward to enact change and make life survivable for all young people. People who have been fighting for this for too long, others who were never comfortable enough to openly talk about their experiences with gun violence, or still others who were never listened to when opening up about their experiences with gun violence or were afraid to speak out — these are the people we are fighting with and for.

González and fellow Parkland activists made the cover of TIME magazine this week. “The young voices of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have changed minds and even laws,” writes TIME.

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