Holidays Underscore Need to Prevent Suicide

December 22, 2011

We’ve all seen the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”. At his wit’s end, George Bailey considers killing himself, only to be rescued by an angel who shows him just how valuable his life is.

Oregon Partnership Crisis Line staff and volunteers are every day angels. They received over 19,000 suicide calls in 2011. While 99 percent of suicide calls are de-escalated, there has been an increase in the need for suicide “rescues” – the point at which they have to intervene in a suicide attempt. The holidays can cause people to become particularly vulnerable.  Last December, crisis line personnel had to perform five rescues in just a two hour period.

“We are seeing more intense pain with the holidays and the ongoing difficult economy” says Leslie Storm, Oregon Partnership Crisis Line supervisor. “People are hurting and just don’t feel they can cope with the pain. We help them find alternatives.”

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Despite wanting the pain to stop, most suicidal people wish there was an alternative to killing themselves, but they just can’t see one. Suicide can be prevented.

The top causes for suicide are untreated depression and other untreated mental illnesses. The stigma surrounding those mental health issues are an obstacle to seeking help and acts to enable the choice. Addressing the issue directly offers the most hope for suicide prevention.

Suicidal people usually give warning signs. The best way to prevent suicide is to know and watch for these warning signs and to get involved if you spot them:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Seeking out lethal means
  • Preoccupation with death
  • No hope for the future
  • Self-loathing, self-hatred
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Saying goodbye
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Sudden sense of calm
  • Increased alcohol and drug use


“Many people see the signs and don’t know what to do or worry they are inadequate to the situation,” said Storm. “We can help them find the words to say and actions to take to prevent suicide.”

If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, call the free and confidential Oregon Partnership Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE.

It is a wonderful life, sometimes we just can’t see it.


Drugged Driving Toolkit Available

December 8, 2011


From the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA): “Have one [drink] for the road” was once a commonly used phrase in American culture. It has only been within the past 25 years that as a Nation, we have begun to recognize the dangers associated with drunk driving. And through a multipronged and concerted effort involving many stakeholders—including educators, media, legislators, law enforcement, and community organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving—the Nation has seen a decline in the numbers of people killed or injured as a result of drunk driving. But it is now time that we recognize and address the similar dangers that can occur with drugged driving.

The principal concern regarding drugged driving is that driving under the influence of any drug that acts on the brain could impair one’s motor skills, reaction time, and judgment. Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk but also passengers and others who share the road.

However, despite the knowledge about a drug’s potentially lethal effects on driving performance and other concerns that have been acknowledged by some public health officials, policy officials, and constituent groups, drugged driving laws have lagged behind alcohol-related driving legislation, in part because of limitations in the current technology for determining drug levels and resulting impairment. For alcohol, detection of its blood concentration (BAC) is relatively simple, and concentrations greater than 0.08 percent have been shown to impair driving performance; thus, 0.08 percent is the legal limit in this country. But for illicit drugs, there is no agreed-upon limit for which impairment has been reliably demonstrated. Furthermore, determining current drug levels can be difficult, since some drugs linger in the body for a period of days or weeks after initial ingestion.

We need to press forward to develop field sobriety tools for all substances that can impair driving, not just alcohol. Click this link to find out more information:


Education Rx Drug Abuse Summit provides support for schools

December 2, 2011