PADUCAH, KY – Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s Regional Prevention Center has been working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on solutions to help prevent suicide in our region. Earlier this year, McCracken County Sherriff Jon Hayden helped spur discussions between McCracken County EMS, City and County Fire Departments, local media and Four Rivers Behavioral Health. The Sherriff was concerned by the number of people attempting suicide by jumping of area bridges and believed this group could help raise awareness and come up with proactive solutions to curb suicide attempts.
“We had two people within a few weeks of each other jump or attempt to jump off a highway bridge in our area. We just couldn’t let that go. We wanted to do something.” Said Ellen Walsh, who is the program director for Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s Regional Prevention Center.
She continued, “One of the most effective things we can do to help prevent suicide is let people know they aren’t alone – that there is someone they can talk to.”
Working with the transportation department they were able to have signs installed at several bridges in the region including the Brookport Bridge in Paducah, the I-24 Bridge in Paducah, and the bridge over the Tennessee River at Ledbetter.
“It’s amazing how just a little thing like a sign can mean all the difference to someone contemplating suicide.” Said Samantha Powell, a certified prevention specialist at Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s Regional Prevention Center.
She went on, “To know there is a call they can make and someone will listen is a very effective prevention tool. I had read research about the success of signs like this from the QPR Institute and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and we decided that we could take a similar approach.”
The QPR Institute is a national organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing suicidal behaviors by providing suicide prevention training. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. Much like CPR, the QPR moniker is designed to help people learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to Question, Persuade, and Refer someone for help.
The signs that were installed are bright red and easy to spot. Each sign says, “You Are Not Alone” and has the number and website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255. Interestingly, the National Lifeline is answered by someone within the area of the call. In our region, calls are handled by Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s Crisis Center in Mayfield, KY.
The signs were installed last week and it is hoped that other regions in Kentucky follow suit by installing signs on high traffic bridges in their areas.
Four Rivers Behavioral Health is a private, not-for-profit agency that for more than 50 years has provided comprehensive mental health, substance abuse and developmental/intellectual disability services to clients in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, McCracken, and Marshall Counties.
For more information about our suicide prevention efforts as well as other prevention concerns, such as substance abuse among youth, contact Four Rivers Behavioral Health at 270.442.7121 or visit the company’s website at www.4RBH.org.