Elisa Enriquez discusses the national strategy for suicide prevention during the Rotary Club of Los Alamos regular meeting Tuesday.

Elisa Enriquez discusses the national strategy for suicide prevention during the Rotary Club of Los Alamos regular meeting Tuesday.

“This is a difficult topic,” Los Alamos National Laboratory Ombudsman and Counselor Elisa Enriquez told local Rotarians during their regular club meeting Tuesday at the Manhattan Project restaurant. “You probably know we have a high rate of suicide in New Mexico,” she said; adding that the state is not alone; every 14 minutes someone in the U.S. dies of suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation and an estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per one suicide death. The purpose behind Enriquez’ talk was not to focus on the statistics but to focus on what is being done to respond to this issue and what can be done. She emphasized for those who have been impacted by suicide, “No matter what you do or don’t do, it is not your fault.” Furthermore, she said the local effort toward this issue is pretty good. “I think Los Alamos is doing quite well,” Enriquez said. “This community has really come together.” To address suicide, Enriquez identified the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The strategy is divided into four interconnected strategic directions which are: Healthy and empowered individuals, families and communities; Clinical and community preventive services; Treatment and support services; and Surveillance, research and evaluation. There also are socio-ecological factors to consider including the individual or a person’s biological and personal history; relationships with peers, partners and family; community, which includes a person’s school, workplace and neighborhood; and societal or factors that contribute to the climate that a person lives in as well as societal and cultural norms, health, economic, educational and social policies. Looking at Los Alamos, the community has been proactive in addressing this issue. For instance, Enriquez said the laboratory trains its manager’s on suicide prevention and there is a wealth of programs in the community. These include Los Alamos Community Health Council, which provides updated information about health issues, social determinants of health, community health needs, services and gaps. The organization also identifies recommended priorities to help enhance the current system and tries to meet the community’s health-related needs and gaps. Additionally, the Los Alamos Family YMCA offers the Reach and Rise Mentoring Program, which trains mentors to work with youth. The Los Alamos Teen Center offers a place for teenagers age 14 and older to hang out, study and have fun.

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