Suicides down so far from last year; Efforts under way to improve youth mental health awareness

(Lander, Wyo.) – After 2012’s record high year of suicides in Fremont County, this year’s amount of suicides are on track to be lower.

Since January, there have been eight suicides. Four were by gunshot wounds, two by vehicle, one asphyxia and one overdose. In 2012, Fremont County led the state with 19 suicides, which helped give Wyoming one of the highest suicide rates (per capita) in the country. A possible ninth suicide by gunshot wound occurred in Lander earlier this week.

In the last month, there were two attempts and seven threats reported to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, one threat in Lander, and two attempts and one threat in Riverton.

Last week, the Fremont County Suicide Prevention Taskforce met to discuss the current suicides, attempts and threats, along with prevention efforts and trainings to help give aid to those struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Half of this year’s suicides were in the taskforce’s target area of middle-aged individuals who do not have direct intervention opportunities like youth and the elderly.

Fremont County Coroner’s Office’s Erin Ivey said that one of the suicides was a 36-year-old veteran. She said in his pocket was a local suicide prevention hotline business card that had out-dated phone numbers. It is unknown whether the man ever attempted to call the numbers. She said the taskforce should work to make sure places that distribute the local group’s cards have the latest versions.

Much of the day’s conversation centered Fremont County’s youth.

After hearing a brief presentation from Riverton School Resource Officer Cody Myers and Lander School Resource Officer Jake Conilogue, the taskforce voted to take part in a Youth Mental Health First Aid training in December. Myers and Conilgue would be the trainers, and the purpose of the event would be to help the participants learn how to spot potential problems and steer people in the right direction to get help. The training covers everything from suicidal behaviors to anxiety to eating disorders.

The taskforce agreed to pay $400 for 20 people to take the training. Taskforce members get the first crack at the 20 spots on Dec. 30, then it could be opened to other interested individuals.

There was also talk about trying to implement plans in local schools for how to handle student suicides, support systems for first responders and more.

Duffy Glasgow said she is in the process of organizing support groups for male and female survivors of suicide attempts.