According to the 2015 Center for Disease Control Suicide Fact Sheet, suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, the second among persons aged 15-34 years, the fourth among persons aged 45-54 years, the eighth among persons 55-64 years, and the seventeenth among persons 65 years and older. It is a significant health problem that inspired the collaboration between the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network and the Naugatuck Valley Community College Human Services Club. Kathleen LeBlanc, MS, MSW, Coordinator for Human Services/Pre-Social Work Programs at NVCC, assisted with the outreach to invite leaders in the field of mental health to the College for what is destined to become an annual event.
Following a welcome by NVCC President, Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., which recognized the College’s commitment to the wellbeing of our students, and the importance of this subject, the program featured an overview by Sheila Cooperman, M.D., Medical Director of the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network.
Kelly Posner, Ph.D., from Columbia University, who developed the suicide rating scales that have been successfully used to evaluate a patient’s risk for suicidal behavior, the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) presented training on using the scale with a presentation by Adam Lesser, LCSW on a patient safety plan. The event had an important “take-away”--Suicide is preventable. The course was designed to familiarize attendees with the scale, which has been used to assess the suicidality of people across various settings—primary care, institutions, emergency rooms, private practice, schools, armed services—with no mental health training required to administer it. It has been administered more than a million times and has been recommended for use by Joint Commission Best Practices Library; FDA; AMA Best Practices Adolescent Suicide; Health Canada, Israeli Defense Force and the World Health Organization.
The symposium provided information on how to identify those at risk for suicide, how to avoid unnecessary interventions, and how to administer the scale.
More than 80 local agencies from the 22-town service area of the College, over 320 people attended the symposium. Agencies were invited based on their role in the field of mental health. The Student Government Association (SGA) collaborated with the producers of the event by selling coffee and refreshments with proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Project. The symposium was a learning opportunity for NVCC students from Human Services, Behavioral Sciences, Criminal Justice, Nursing and the Drug Alcohol Rehabilitation Counselors (DARC) Program.