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Suicide prevention conference coming to Gonzaga

By Douglas Taylor

“Achieving Zero Suicide,” a conference committed to reducing or eradicating suicide deaths in the Inland Northwest, will be held March 10 at Gonzaga University. The event will feature Dr. Paul Quinnett, a clinical psychologist, long-time advocate for mental health, and author of the book “Suicide: The Forever Decision” as the keynote speaker.  Quinnett is the founder of QPR, an internationally respected method of training ‘gatekeepers’ to talk with individuals who appear unusually sad, hopeless or isolated.

Put on by Suicide Prevention Inland Northwest, a group of local suicide prevention advocates founded in 2013, “Achieving Zero Suicide” aims to provide a set of tools and strategies to combat suicide in the region. Its concepts are proven, too. The Zero Suicide depression care program was put into effect in the Henry Ford Health system, and saw incredible results—no suicides in over 2 years.

The Spokane region poses its own challenges, of which the conference plans to address. A majority of its occupants live in a rural setting, presenting some difficulties for accessing care. Guns are more commonly owned, and in the hands of someone who wishes to harm themselves, they can be extremely dangerous. Spokane is on the border of the Rocky Mountain West, which has the second-highest suicide rate in the country, only second to Alaska.

Suicide, however, is a problem across all of the country.

“In 2012, 40,000 Americans took their own lives,” said Marny Lombard, a founding member of Suicide Prevention Inland Northwest, “about 100 die each day. Suicide in our community and our nation is a silent epidemic.”

Lombard lost her son to suicide in 2013 and ever since has been committed to saving lives.

Like Lombard, most members of Suicide Prevention Inland Northwest have a personal stake in the issue: loved ones that have been lost to mental illness. Sabrina Votava is the Spokane Area Field Coordinator of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program. After losing two brothers in 2003, Votava said that “part of the work was healing for me, but it soon became my passion.”

“Achieving Zero Suicide” is an all-day event, located in Cataldo Hall. Tickets are currently sold out, but for information on future events, contact Lombard at marny.lombard@gmail.com. If you or someone else is having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

About Douglas Taylor

Doug Taylor is a junior at Gonzaga University, majoring in broadcast and electronic media, and pursuing a minor in English. He is originally from Portland, Oregon. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, skiing at Schweitzer, hiking and fishing. He loves sports, and is a captain of the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team on campus. He recently got back from studying abroad in Florence, Italy, and is slowly adjusting to life without amazing food.

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