Be Well Orange County Community Suicide Prevention Initiative
HOPE * CONNECTION * PURPOSE
MISSION: The Orange County Community Suicide Prevention Initiative aims to prevent suicide by promoting hope and purposeful life in the community, especially among survivors, those at risk and their loved ones.
Suicide Rates in Orange County: From 2000 to 2018, the suicide death rate (per 100,000 residents) increased by 25% in Orange County. In the five years from 2014 to 2018, an average of 330 lives were lost each year, reaching an all-time high of 369 deaths in 2018.
On March 12, 2019, the Orange County Board of Supervisors allocated funding to create a coordinated, countywide effort to build awareness, align prevention activities across partners for maximum impact and drive system change to reduce suicides in Orange County.
In July 2019, through its contract and partnership with the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Be Well OC Community Suicide Prevention Initiative (CSPI) was launched. CSPI, like all Be Well activities, is grounded in a Collective Impact framework that promotes collaboration, coordination, and alignment across community partners. Through this partnership, CSPI seeks to develop, enrich and integrate new and existing services and supports across the suicide prevention continuum and throughout the entire county.
Planning and Organizing
The CSPI Community Forum is a group of committed volunteers from the community who regularly convene to inform the efforts of CSPI, engage in awareness building, and serve as advisors to this community-driven initiative. Since 2018, Community Forum members have been meeting on the second Saturday each month to support suicide prevention activities and increase connectedness between individuals, families and communities. The Community Forum members are the initial “Ambassadors of Hope”, a Be Well OC volunteer program to spread hope, resilience and recovery.
The Leadership Group, with guidance from the CSPI Community Forum, established a project Charter[MW3] to frame the need in Orange County and to gain consensus on the initiative’s aim, goals and objectives. The goals identified by the CSPI partners include:
- Increase awareness about how to prevent suicide.
- Increase connectedness between individuals, families and communities.
- Increase detection of individuals in need.
- Increase access to mental health care.
- Reduce access to lethal means
Data-Driven, Population Health Focus: In order to develop a prevention plan and framework that is responsive to community needs, the CSPI Leadership Group used population health data to identify populations at highest risk for suicide in Orange County. County level statistics that helped inform the CSPI populations of focus include the following:
Youth/Young Adults: From 2010 to 2018, the suicide rate among youth and young adults, ages 10-24, increased by 11%.
Men in their Middle Years: From 2016 through 2018, 57% of suicide deaths were men ages 35 to 64.
Older Adults: 17.9 suicide deaths occur for every 100,000 individuals ages 65 and older, with the highest rate among those aged 85+ (19.5 deaths per 100,000).
Framework for Community-Driven Suicide Prevention: The Leadership Group, with guidance from the CSPI Community Forum, developed a Community-Driven Framework for Suicide Prevention which aims to build collaboration among public and private organizations, community stakeholders and suicide survivors to prevent suicide through increasing the hope, connection and purpose of those at greatest risk.
The CSPI Framework is informed by the National Action Alliance’s “7 Key Elements for Comprehensive Community-Based Suicide Prevention.”
1) UNITY: Attainment and maintenance of broad-based momentum around a shared vision
2) PLANNING: Use of a strategic, planning process that lays out stakeholder roles and intended outcomes
3) INTEGRATION: Use of multiple, integrated suicide prevention strategies
4) FIT: Alignment of activities with context, culture and readiness
5) COMMUNICATION: Clear, Open and consistent communication
6) DATA: Use of surveillance and evaluation data to guide action, assess progress and make changes
7) SUSTAINABILITY: A focus on long-lasting change
The CSPI Framework for Community-Based Suicide Prevention has Four Basic Steps:
Step 1: Reach out to high risk populations and engage those in need. This includes adolescents and young adults, with a focus on LGBTQ individuals, foster youth and high-achievers, men in their middle years including veterans and first responders, and older adults, particularly homebound seniors living in isolation, cultural minorities, and single, unemployed men.
Step 2: Maintain contact with those in need and support continuity of care. This includes using technology, service navigation and compassion to stay in touch with individuals at-risk, survivors and family members coping with grief and loss.
Step 3: Improve the lives of those in need through comprehensive services and supports. Capacity building within provider organizations and across community-based supports is needed to meet the growing demand for treatment and improve access to care.
Step 4: Build community awareness, reduce stigma and promote help-seeking. Training, prevention events, awareness and empathy building across providers, faith-based organizations, schools, businesses and the broader community are critical to eliminating stigma and promoting hope, resilience and recovery.
Community Outreach and Awareness Building
CSPI is undertaking a variety of outreach efforts in the community to increase public awareness about how to prevent suicide and to gain community feedback to inform plan development. Some of the engagement activities with survivors, family members and concerned community members during the initial year included the following:
Fifteen monthly community forums held in locations around Orange County and virtually.
Launched a CSPI Facebook group in September 2019
During Suicide Prevention month in September 2019, hundreds of brochures and lawn signs with suicide lifeline information were distributed to community organizations, individuals, and showcased at Santa Ana airport.
A video PSA featuring community members, mental health and faith leaders, was created and shared through social media by community-based organizations and individuals, as well as on local cable television and the Each Mind Matters website. Saddleback Church Founder and Pastor Rick Warren also developed and shared a video as part of this campaign, which was further amplified by the community.
Developed “Ambassadors of Hope,” program to engage community volunteers in suicide prevention awareness and hope building activities.
Webinar training on “Talk Saves Lives” was provided on April 29th and May 15th by the OC chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Hosted “Cultivating Hope in the Community” an event at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, and a screening of “The S Word” including a panel discussion that included Saddleback Church Founder Kay Warren, Supervisor Andrew Do and Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau in Santa Ana in January 2020.
Building a Countywide Suicide Prevention Coalition in OC:
Bringing the CSPI Framework to life will require a broader set of partners to implement and align various outreach, engagement, capacity building, training, crisis intervention and support activities. The CSPI Leadership Group will continue to provide strategic guidance and direction on all activities while we simultaneously expand the governance structure to include workgroups to develop and carry out implementation activities.
Expanding Community Outreach and Engagement:
We will continue to align, elevate and support community-based outreach, prevention and postvention efforts across CSPI needed to build awareness, address stigma and eliminate suicides and suicide attempts in our county.
Engage Interested Community Partners in Piloting the Framework:
We will engage high need communities who wish to adopt the framework and have local leadership and stakeholder support to pilot test the CSPI Framework. Each of the four components of the framework will be piloted to the extent existing resources are available and will focus on the high-risk populations: youth and young adults, men in their middle years and older adults.
Planning for Sustainability and Spread:
The lessons learned through community implementation efforts will be used to expand the CSPI activities into additional communities, eventually reaching all regions and populations in Orange County. Pilot efforts will integrate new and existing suicide prevention activities into a “system” for suicide prevention that is sustainable and scalable and that is built on the principles of population health and equity.