In early April 2016, a group of community members met as the Garland County Suicide Prevention Coalition to devise a plan to begin addressing the problem of suicide for their community. After reviewing the information provided by the Garland County Coroner, Stuart Smedley, and hearing his perspective on data obtained, the system of care issues, and our limited backgrounds in looking into this issue, the committee decided to host a series of Town Hall events. These events would invite community members open to the general public but specifically target community leaders.
Three coalition members spearheaded organizing, inviting attendees, and promoting the town hall events. Each of the three members represented different community groups or agencies as well. These members were Kylee Malkmus of Levi Hospital, Caroline Finney of Community Counseling Services, and Susie Reynolds Reece of GCSPC. Personal emails were sent to key representatives explaining the events’ intent, outlining expectations and program organization, and detailing two main speaking points. Panelists were given the speaking points before the event to be best prepared and informed that the event would be open to the public.
Target agencies were invited to both speak and attend the events. A representative from each of the major care providers and first responders organizations who cover Garland County was invited (a total of 10 in all). Ideal organizations were those who most often come into contact with individuals in crisis, particularly those suffering from a mental health crisis. Those invited to speak on a panel were chosen due to their role within their agencies, community feedback on their willingness to speak regarding the topic, and their public concern for more comprehensive care for the most vulnerable of the Garland County community. A moderator, Susan Millerd, facilitated the discussions and the questions. Ms. Millerd was selected based on her skillset in handling the types of possible conversations that could erupt from this area and due to her deft ability to navigate discussions professionally and expertly. Question Filtering was utilized to adhere to time constraints, address the most appropriate and common obstacles, and ease any possible panelist concerns regarding their organizations and the panelist public perceptions of the panelists.
The coalition hoped these meetings would be the first step toward a more seamless and integrated care experience for those in crisis. The group hoped to gather community input and organizational needs and create a picture of the larger community structure so that this information would drive efforts forward effectively and strategically.
This is the start of a community initiative to address suicide proactively.