National suicide prevention foundation partners with Albany County coalition

The local Coalition to Prevent Suicide and Substance Abuse, CoPSSA, has begun a partnership with the national JED Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes emotional health and prevents suicide.

The JED Foundation is named after Jed Satow, a college student who died by suicide in 1998. Following Satow’s death, his parents started the JED Foundation to address mental health needs of young adults.

“I think it’s an organization that truly cares about communities, that really cares about prevention as a whole,” Albany County Prevention Specialist Susy Lawler said.

The foundation normally partners with universities to become “JED Universities.” A JED University would be assessed by JED to determine the strengths, weaknesses and needs of the campus. The foundation would then address those needs by suggesting specific suicide prevention measures.

“The University of Wyoming actually uses their template to go off of for suicide prevention,” Albany County Prevention Specialist Kailyn Cook said.

JED approached the University of Wyoming last year, offering to do an assessment and partner with UW. Because the university was already using the JED suggestions and felt confident with its suicide prevention program, it suggested JED reach out to the Laramie community in general instead, especially because the city is so heavily populated with college students.

JED responded positively to the suggestion. Last December, Albany County Public Health’s manager and prevention team took a trip to New York City to meet with JED Foundation members to set the plan in motion.

“We are going to be the first pilot program for JED, to be a JED Community,” Cook said.

The partnership is currently in the beginning stages, but JED Foundation will send some members to assess the community this spring.

“They’re gonna look at us as a whole, they’re gonna talk to our community members, and they’re gonna break down what we’re doing, the trainings that we have,” Cook said.

After grasping the community culture and current trainings, the foundation will offer suggestions on trainings and plans to more effectively prevent suicide. Local specialists hope to implement the foundation’s suggestions this summer.

“Wyoming is a little hesitant with change,” Cook said. She said that despite this, it is valuable to have a third party come and assess the community and make suggestions.

“JED is an expert in prevention nationwide,” Lawler said. “They’re gonna help provide us with all the tools and research to be successful, but it will be the community’s job to implement those changes.”

Cook and Lawler are both looking to engage in prevention with groups that may normally be overlooked.

“We’ve been looking at the community as a whole, and I think that’s absolutely amazing, but I feel like there’s been pockets of people that have been missed,” Cook said.

A few of the groups Cook and Lawler mentioned are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, LGBTQ populations, Hispanic populations and low-income individuals.

“It makes me excited to have such a big organization come in and be the push that we actually need,” Cook said.

Coinciding with this partnership is Gov. Mark Gordon’s recent recommendation to budget funds for the ongoing project to set up a suicide hotline in Wyoming.

Gordon initially denied the Wyoming Department of Health’s request to budget $1 million for an in-state call center but changed course mid-January. Gordon submitted a letter to the Joint Appropriations Committee recommending $400,000 to set up the hotline.

By Mary Rucinski – Original Article