Suicide Prevention

I recently attended the Western States Conference on Suicide.  No conference could be more timely or necessary as western states including Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming have the highest suicide rates in the nation.

Knowledge about suicide is greatly lacking which also hinders its prevention.  Here are some quick facts:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S and second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24
  • There are over 40,000 deaths annually from suicide, higher than the number of deaths from traffic accidents. And deaths through suicide are greatly underreported
  • 45% of those completing suicide have visited a primary health care provider within the past year
  • Over 1,000 people complete suicide within 72 hours of discharge from the emergency room of the hospital
  • It is impossible to predict which individuals will attempt suicide but it is possible to determine the risk by group (age, mental health) and reduce symptoms & suffering

Amazingly, health care providers frequently do not receive any training on suicide even though training is essential for screening and prevention.  Trained health care professionals can identify risk of suicide and then work with patients to develop a safety plan, counsel removal of lethal means, and make sure that patients are connected to ongoing assistance (personal hand-off rather than paper referral).

Many people who complete suicide have a diagnosis of depression and take medication to treat it.  The problem is that some of the medications that treat depression activate a gene that causes suicide ideation.  The good news is that researchers are identifying drugs, such as lithium and ketamine, that can shut off the desire to commit suicide.

Here are some resources that can help to prevent suicide:

Training:  No one should embark on suicide prevention without first receiving training.  A good place to start is the QPR model which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer.  A variety of online training for individuals, organizations, and professionals is available at low cost.  For more information visit

Suicide Prevention Resource Center: SPRC is the only federally-funded suicide center, sponsored by SAMHSA.    The site contains information on programs, funding for states, and a curricula developed especially for Native Alaskans and American Indians youth and young adults.  For more information, visit  To view the manual To Live to See the Great Day that Dawns, visit

Hope Squad:  Utah has a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program for youth that was developed through the joint efforts of a state legislator and high school principal.  There have been no youth deaths from suicide in the Provo School District since the curriculum was implemented.  For more information visit


Posted by Priscilla Martens

NFPN Executive Director




A Father’s Brain

My father loved infants.  He was the most excited person in the family when my mom was pregnant and he always made the announcement.  I must have either missed or forgotten the announcement about an incoming sibling when I was five years old.  My mom disappeared one day and after a week I thought she wasn’t coming back.  I was outside honing my survival skills by lighting matches when my folks drove up.  My mom carried something squirming in a yellow blanket.  My dad told me to put the matches away and come in the house to see the new baby.  I obeyed and put the matches away but the squirming thing looked like trouble so I passed on that.

My father loved girls.  Four of his five children were girls.  One of the few times I saw him cry was when my youngest sister died from leukemia at the age of three. My father had to wait 40 years for another girl to arrive in the family, a great-granddaughter.  She had a close bond with my father and wrote a touching story about him when he died.

My father loved story-telling. He would get a twinkle in his eye and commence telling a humorous story with a straight face while the rest of us roared with laughter.  In his last remaining years, he would ask me to drive him around the farm that has been in our family for 100 years.  He would tell me stories of what had happened during the early days.

Every Father’s Day I recall my father’s stories, his character, and his deep love for his family.  This year I’ve also discovered some interesting research about a father’s brain. Consider the following:

  • A study of expectant fathers showed that midpregnancy ultrasound is a key moment in connecting with the baby. However, while moms think about cuddling the baby, dads think about the child’s future.
  • A father’s brain changes while caring for a baby, similar to brain changes in the mother, to reflect his new care-giving role.
  • According to brain scans, fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to their daughters’ needs than fathers with toddler sons are to the needs of sons.

If my father were still here, I would share the brain research findings with him. But I already know how he would respond.  He would just laugh.  Because he already knew that.


NFPN has many resources on father involvement.  For an overview visit

In honor of Father’s Day, NFPN is offering The Complete Guide to Father Involvement ( FREE with purchase of:

Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum Package:

Advanced Fatherhood Training Curriculum Package:

Pricing begins at $150 per training package for up to 25 workers or $275 for both.  For ordering and more info contact Priscilla Martens,

Posted by Priscilla Martens

NFPN Executive Director


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