Clallam to hire youth suicide prevention coordinator

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is preparing to hire a 32-hour-per-week youth suicide prevention coordinator with federal funding provided from the state Department of Health.

Andy Brastad, director of county Health and Human Services told the Clallam County commissioners Monday that the department had been approved for funding through September 2019.

This includes $100,000 through September 2018 and an additional $130,000 for October 2018 through September 2019, which would be used to pay the suicide prevention coordinator salary, materials, travel, training and other indirect costs.

He said the county will be looking at what other services are being provided in the county.

The county would be allowed to work in partnership with behavioral health and emergency room departments to develop a system that can support youth who have attempted suicide and also educate on the importance of universal suicide assessments, he said.

“What we’re going to be working to do is reach out to all other prevention specialists and schools in the county [to see] what are they doing and how we can augment the services they are doing as far as youth suicide prevention,” Brastad said.

He said the goal is to work with emergency departments at hospitals in the county and find a way for the county to be notified when youth attempt suicide. The suicide prevention coordinator could reach out to youth and their family to find ways to help, he said.

Brastad said another goal would be to educate the community about youth suicide and raise awareness. This would be done by bringing in presenters to talk about the issue and through partnerships with schools, he said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said that though he struggles with understanding the reasons behind people wanting to commit suicide, he feels it is necessary to hire a professional who can help address the problem.

“I’ve got to wonder if part of it is awareness, getting the word out to the schools and to the person sitting there thinking ‘this is hopeless,’ ” he said. “This is getting the word out that it’s not hopeless and here’s some options.”

He said the suicide prevention coordinator will need to take a look at what others are doing in the community and identify gaps that the county could fill.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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