Guest column: Addressing suicide in Tahoe
Beautiful Lake Tahoe … most residents here agree it is a truly enjoyable and freeing place to live. There are plenty of gatherings to enjoy, including year-round outdoor activities and even indoor events to keep those who prefer the comfort of four walls happy.
What some people might not realize is that with all the commotion and frequent happenings, there are still members of our beautiful Tahoe world who do not include themselves in the joyous outings. There are people who might not have the accessibility to transportation or who just cannot seem to get themselves out of the house.
Some might be physically present in our world, but are mentally trying to fight demons beyond their control. They might be suffering from anxiety, depression or a variety of mental health issues. They are unable to face people out of fear (whether incorrect or accurate) of being rejected, harassed or even worse, completely ignored. Feelings of anxiety and depression can lead to isolation, self-injury or suicide.
Suicide is complex and difficult to understand. In El Dorado County, there are approximately 30 suicides a year. The epidemic is affecting all of us, regardless of our background, and residents have taken steps toward change.
The state of California has formed the Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) to help those individuals suffering from mental illness. Under MHSA, the awarding of grants to local agencies to support such efforts has resulted in funding allocated specifically toward groups engaged in suicide prevention and stigma reduction. As of August 2016, some of this grant money was awarded to Tahoe Youth & Family Services. Under the grant, education and support services are to be top priority. Tahoe Youth & Family Services has chosen Suicide Prevention Network to deliver these specific services.
While Suicide Prevention Network is humbled and honored to join the stakeholders of South Lake Tahoe, they come with the intention to serve the “Tahome” members to their upmost abilities. Suicide Prevention Network is working diligently with Barton, South Lake Tahoe Unified School District, the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Tahoe Youth & Family Services and many others to see that prevention and awareness programs are successfully implemented. This will be done by providing trainings, whether it be a 15- to 60-minute presentation, a two-day workshop (ASIST) and/or support groups.
For information on programs or trainings or answers to questions you may have, we encourage you to contact our office at 775-783-1510. If you or anyone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, please call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Alisa Merino is the program coordinator for Suicide Prevention Network. For more information, visit http://www.spnawareness.org.
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This past year has been a rollercoaster for the Lake Tahoe region. As the coronavirus pandemic dragged on, undeterred visitors continued to flock to the area.