Jul. 8—WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Suicide Prevention Coalition is asking residents or those who work in Jefferson County to complete an online survey to guide strategic planning.
Data is anonymous and will be kept confidential. Survey results will help inform the coalition, a consortium of organizations and individuals dedicated to the prevention of suicide through public education and awareness and to develop interventions.
According to Alicia A. Ruperd, co-chair of the coalition and coordinator of mental health services for Jefferson County Community Services, the coalition was awarded a three-year grant with St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.
"It was a three-year grant that was extended because of COVID, so that's wrapping up, and we've been trying to figure out where do we want our efforts to lie after the grants wrapped up," Mrs. Ruperd said. "We recognized we as providers can sit around and talk about what we think the best things are, but without getting the feedback from our community and finding out where they feel priorities lie, and really what's going on with the perspectives of our community members and getting them on board, a strategic plan isn't going to be successful. So that's the purpose of the survey, getting that feedback from our community members."
The coalition will also be hosting a summit in September to guide its strategic plan update.
The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/2022JCSPC.
Questions will be centered on the respondent's perspectives, including how big of a problem they feel suicide is in Jefferson County and if they feel that there are resources available in the community. There are also some agree-disagree statements, such as if they are knowledgeable about warning signs, risk factors, their comfort level talking to somebody who may be contemplating suicide, and what the likelihood would be that they would attempt to offer assistance to somebody that they knew was contemplating suicide.
"One of the biggest barriers is stigma," Mrs. Ruperd said. "The more information that's out there, the more people that are trained the more comfortable that people are having these conversations, that's what's going to help. Because until we get comfortable as a community talking about something like mental health and suicide prevention, it's difficult to help those that are in need."
In 2017, there were 18 suicides in the county, according to the coalition's data. In 2018, there were 11. In 2019, the number jumped to 24 and then fell to 10 in 2020. Last year, there were 17 suicides in the county.
The coalition's goal is to make sure its efforts are aligned with what people are seeing and experiencing in the community.
"We want to make sure that our efforts are aligned with our community members," Mrs. Ruperd said. "We want to make sure that we're hearing the community's voice and using that information to steer what we do in the future years."
For questions and comments, email Alicia Ruperd at email@example.com