University of Washington
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Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention efforts ripple across UW campus
Student leaders hoping for a big turnout at the April 30 Husky Help & Hope (H3) Walk include, from left: Varchita Alishetti, Roland Arii, Micia Vergara and Hannah Jeong.  The annual event begins at Intellectual House on the UW campus. (Photo by Caitlin LaVine)

Mary Giles works in the west campus area of UW Seattle, noted for its heavily trafficked pedestrian thoroughfares such as The Ave and Northeast 45th Street. Every day she sees students walking around, “utterly absorbed in their electronic devices and showing no particular need to interact with a passerby like me.” Learning that the UW has lost 20 students to suicide since the fall of 2009 was a revelation to Giles, a UW staff member, as was the fact that 1 in 4 college students have a diagnosable mental illness. On the UW campus, that adds up to nearly 11,000 students. Giles saw students in a new light, suggesting that “these tech-savvy, fast-moving youth are at least as vulnerable as we students were 40 years ago.”

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Volunteers set up Forefront’s #1111suicides2many installation on the Gonzaga University campus in advance of the March 11 Zero Suicide Inland Northwest Conference and Training Day. (Photo by Satish Shrestha)

A bold new way of talking about suicide prevention is sweeping the suicide prevention landscape. Health and mental health care systems are aiming to reduce the number of suicides by people receiving their care to zero. Not cut rates by half. Not by a quarter. Eliminate the ways for people to fall through the cracks in those systems.

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The Capitol lawn was covered with tombstones symbolizing Washington lives lost to suicide in just one year. Red signs signify suicide deaths by firearms.(Photo by Katie M. Simmons)

By Sydney Friend Sifferman

Personal stories of grief and loss teamed up with messages of hope and proposals for change at Forefront’s third annual Suicide Prevention Education Day, Jan. 25, 2016 in Olympia. The stage was set with a striking memorial of 1,111 tombstones on the Capitol lawn. Although the tombstones were made of cardboard, the emotional impact was real because they symbolized Washington residents who died by suicide.

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Insights Blog

Insight Blog

Apr 25, 2016 -- Efforts to reduce suicide rates in Washington State, including a new law on which Forefront collaborated on with the state NRA and others, could not come at a more important time. After a decades-long decline in the U.S. suicide rate, it has risen to a 28-year high, according to a new study from... more
Apr 15, 2016 -- A new research study suggests that something as simple as regular, personalized letters following a short term of therapy can help individuals at risk of repeating an attempt at suicide. Swiss researchers tested the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) with approximately 120... more
Mar 04, 2016 -- The mere thought of people who aren’t fully trained for suicide prevention trying to coach other people through their suicidal thoughts on a social media platform seems horrifying at first glance. That’s what suicide hotlines are for, right? Suicide hotlines are useful for many reasons: the... more

First Person

First Person

We need better mental health resources for our kids
By Matthew Thompson, M.D. A teenage boy has had a fight with his sibling that included choking and threats. The teen tells his parent that he felt bad about the fight, but everything lately has been building up. He feels like he wants to kill himself and shares some disturbingly... more
Understanding why adoptees are at higher risk for suicide
By Maureen McCauley Evans, M.A. Most people view adoption as a happy, even blessed, event. A child finds a new family: nothing but joy, right? Adoption can be happy, a blessing, joyful. For some adoptees, though, adoption is complex, and can be filled with as much loss as love.... more
78 years after Hans Maier’s death, his legacy is recalled, renewed & honored
I never met my grandfather, Hans Maier, who died before I was born as a result of suicide in 1937 when he was 49 years old.  I was surprised and amazed when I learned that so many years after he “gave up on his life,” his legacy was being honored in Frankfurt where he had lived and worked... more

Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention