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County Health Department Assesses Suicide Prevention Needs

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The 2023 Cortland County Suicide Prevention Needs Assessment has been released by the County Health Department and Speak Up Cortland Suicide Prevention Coalition.


Suicide is considered a complex and multifaceted public health issue. Due to this, a thorough data assessment is needed to find progress and make changes to plans within the community on an as needed basis.

“Suicide prevention efforts in our community will need to increase after the layers of need intensify in communities from the pandemic. This suicide prevention assessment will help us to use data informed decisions connected with our community feedback.” Stated Director of Community Services, Sharon MacDougall.

The assessment shows the populations that were identified in the county that are considered at risk of suicide include, but not limited to: Middle age male population, youth population, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Some of the risk factors that were also noted included: mental health disorders, depression, substance use, chronic illness/disability, financial problems, bullying, hopelessness, and social isolation.

“The topic of suicide is often stigmatized and can be one of the most uncomfortable discussions to have, but what is not always understood is that suicide is a serious public health problem. Both economic and human costs of suicidal behavior does not only affect individuals, but also families, communities and society. It is important for public health to emphasize efforts to prevent suicide before it occurs. This requires not only reducing risk factors that may put people at risk but also increasing the factors that protect people from engaging in suicidal behavior” Said Public Health Director, Nicole Anjeski.

For suicide prevention in Cortland County, steps have been made. Suicide prevention strategies have been implemented which will address risk factors identified in the assessment released through pooling together resources in the SPEAK UP coalition. The county will also work towards gaining additional funding for suicide prevention efforts and fill in resource gaps. Finally, to build a system to track suicide prevention efforts and measure the change overtime.

For those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available. You may call or text 9-8-8 if you’re experiencing emotional distress. Call 2-1-1 to connect with a local mental health and suicide prevention resources.

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