Category Archives: Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #1: It’s Okay To Ask About Suicide

In honor of our theme of interpersonal connectedness (or #ImHereForYou), we are offering tips on how to help someone who might be considering suicide or facing struggles in life. 

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will increase suicides or suicidal thought. 

Fact: Acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce suicidal ideation. 

Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite; findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

Asking a friend the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates to them that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for dialogue about their emotional pain and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken. Other questions you can ask include, “How do you hurt?” and “How can I help?” Avoid promising to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

It is important to be direct and talk openly about suicide. “Are you thinking about hurting yourself” is not as direct as “Are you thinking about killing yourself”. 

In Honor of Suicide Prevention Month and World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Sep 10, 2019 is World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10 (Today) is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).  The theme this year is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide” which emphasizes that we all have a role in preventing suicide.

At 8pm today, you can join others worldwide in lighting a candle near your window at home or on social media with these e-cards (available in various languages). Find out more ways to participate in WSPD at www.iasp.info/wspd2019/

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou


Septiembre 10 (hoy) es dia mundial de prevencion del suicidio. El tema este año de #WPSD es trabajando juntos para preventar el suicidio. Que enfatiza que todos tenemos.

A las ocho p.m. (8 p.m.) hoy tu puedes partcipar con otras personas mundial en preder una vela serca de tu ventana en tu hogar o en redes sociales medios de comunicacion social.

Para información sobre el mes de prevencion del suicidio y para recursos de prevencion del suicidio en el condad de San Mateo, visita www.smchealth.org/suicideprevention.

Si tu o alguien que conoscas estan considerando en suicidio o estan enfrentando crisis de salud mental llama a Starvista Crisis Hotline (650) 579- 0350 o al National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1(800) 273- TALK.

#serelprimeroSMC #Estoyaquiparati


九月十日(今天)是世界防止自殺日。今年的#世界防止自殺日主題「攜手一起預防自殺」強調我們所有人都有責任去預防自殺。

今晚八點,你可以跟世界各地的人一起在家裡燃點一支蠟燭放於窗前,或者利用這些電子賀卡(適用於各種語言)放上社交媒體。亦可於以下網址了解更多參與世界防止自殺日方法 www.iasp.info/wspd2019/

#做那個人 聖馬刁縣 #我會守侯著你

如欲了解聖馬刁縣裡有關防止自殺月和預防自殺的資訊,請瀏覽www.smchealth.org/suicideprevention.

如果你或你認識的人正在考慮自殺,或正在面對精神危急情況,請致電StarVista緊急熱線 650-579-0350 (或全國預防自殺生命線 1-800-273-8255)


Lived Experience Academy Starts October 3

Former LEA graduates and facilitators

Do you or someone you know have an empowering story to share?

The Lived Experience Academy, starting again next month, trains individuals who have experienced mental health and/or substance abuse challenges to share personal stories that make a difference, help reduce stigma, improve the BHRS services and develop leadership skills. 

Individuals in the program learn how to present stories of recovery in a way that inspires others and helps improve the County’s behavioral health services and the lives of San Mateo County clients and family members.

Apply by September 16, 2019. 

For more information or to apply, contact: Lee Harrison at (650) 372-6118, leharrison@smcgov.org or Jairo Wilches at (650) 573-2890,   jwilches@smcgov.org from the BHRS Office of Consumer & Family Affairs.

Download the flier.

Board of Supervisors’ Proclamation of September Suicide Prevention Month

Every year, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors proclaims September as Suicide Prevention Month. This proclamation highlights an issue that all San Mateo County residents are affected by and can play a role in preventing. 

This year’s proclamation will feature speakers from Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC) and Lived Experience Academy (LEA). LEA speakers will share their lived experience as suicide survivors.

Please save-the-date for this special event: 

Tuesday, September 17, 9am

400 County Center, Redwood City

To watch live and find other details, see Board of Supervisors Meeting Calendar

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8 to 14

September 8-14 is National Suicide Prevention Week, a week dedicated to informing the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. 

Pain isn’t always obvious. Even surrounded by family and friends someone can feel isolated and alone; even when  successful in school and at work, someone can feel hopeless and without purpose; even with a smile on their face, someone can feel deep sadness and depression on the inside. 

During September, we want to emphasize that everyone can play a role in suicide prevention.This is an opportunity to learn the warning signs for suicide, find the words to express concerns to those we care about, connect with our friends, family and co-workers, and learn about local resources that are available to offer support. “Research shows that people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks them in a caring way.” – National Suicide Prevention Line. 

Keep an eye out later this week for posts about how you can prevent suicide by communicating to someone #ImHereForYou. Topics include: 

  • It’s okay to talk about suicide
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Validate that a person’s feelings matter
  • Care for yourself and build resilience

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Join us on Thursday evening, Sept 19, for a panel presentation of San Mateo County’s first-ever graphic novel on mental health.

The Office of Diversity and Equity Storytelling Series worked with our community to create its first graphic novel on mental health. The graphic novel includes the lived experiences of some of the people with

 whom we work. These clients and peers shared their stories of resilience in a method that can make sense to everyone: comics. This way, more people in our county may benefit from the hope and resilience that transcends the experiences of hardships that inspired these stories.

In the workshop where the graphic novel was created, each artist had the opportunity

 to create a spread (inner panels of two facing pages). Looking at the book, one story illustrates the growth of a storyteller by showing the growth progression of a water lily, which metaphorically grows towards the light from underneath the water. Other stories include recounts of events and the positive impact that these events had on the lives of the storytellers.

While each story differs, they all hold a common theme: recovery is possible, and all of us are resilient. Further, these stories represent all of us because each of us has experienced hardship, and all of us have opportunities to practice resilience and self care.

On the 19th, we will read the graphic novel, host a panel in which the storytellers will answer questions, and discuss the ways that we all relate to the stories shared.

Join us for a healing and positive evening.

To learn more about September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Caltrain Proclaims September as Suicide Prevention and Rail Safety Month

As early as 2009, Caltrain has partnered with San Mateo County to prevent suicide in our local community. Caltrain’s suicide prevention work is featured in our 2017-2020 Suicide Prevention Roadmap

For September Suicide Prevention Month and Rail Safety Month, Caltrain and San Mateo County Health – Behavioral Health & Recovery Services is partnering in the following ways: 

  • Accepting September Suicide Prevention and Rail Safety Month Proclamation from Caltrain Board
  • Presenting on suicide prevention work to the Caltrain Citizens Adivisory Committee
  • Providing Question Persuade Refer (QPR) suicide prevention gatekeeper training to train staff for Caltrain staff

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Interfaith Day of Prayer For Faith Hope and Life: Celebrating Life, Hope, and Reasons to Live

In honor of Suicide Prevention Month, San Mateo County’s 4th annual Interfaith Day of Prayer will be hosted on Thursday, September 5th from 12pm to 1pm at 400 County Center Courtyard in Redwood City 

 At the Interfaith Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope and Life, faith and secular leaders will join together to share their faith perspective on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Faith leaders play a key role in supporting mental health and preventing suicide. These leaders are important sources of hope and strength for their congregants, counsel for those in crisis, and provide comfort and support in the aftermath of a suicide attempt or death. It is the faith leader who, at a memorial service or funeral, has a platform to encourage help-seeking by those at risk and remind all to be alert to the risk of suicide in their community.

According to Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders published by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership Steering Committee, “Because religion and spirituality often play a vital role in healing, people experiencing mental health concerns often turn first to a faith leader. From a public health perspective, faith community leaders are gatekeepers or “first responders” when individuals and families face mental health or substance use problems.”  

List of presenters for the event include:

  • Rabbi Lisa Delson, Peninsula Temple Sholom
  • Fr. Lawrence Goode, St Francis of Assisi Church (EPA)
  • Scott Gilman, Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) 
  • BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) – Native Indigenous Peoples Initiative and Pacific Islander Initiative
  • Wesley Mukoyama, Volunteer Buddhist Chaplain at Santa Clara County Jail
  • Akshat Sharma, Sanatan Mandir Hindu Temple
  • Rev. Mary Frazier, Bread of Life Evangelistic Outreach
  • Pamela Ward, Lived Experience Academy
  • Helene Zimmerman,  Executive Director of NAMI SMC
  • Ishaq Pathan, Islamic Network Group
  • & more! 

Get involved in the National Weekend of Prayer on September 6th and 7th by joining in a world wide prayer event in your faith gathering place. Learn more here.  

 For more information about this event, visit https://www.smchealth.org/spirituality-initiative or contact BHRS ODE Spirituality Initiative co-chair Melinda Riccosa at (650) 372 – 8573 or MAParker@smcgov.org and Bill Kruse at (510) 506- 3815 or bkruse@churchfortoday.net

To learn more about September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit www.smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Suicide Prevention Month #IMHEREFORYOU: CONNECTION TO SUICIDE PREVENTION

September is Suicide Prevention Month (SPM), which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). This month, individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to amplify the message that suicide can be prevented, and that resources are available to support ourselves and others.

San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) is partnering with the San Mateo County Libraries, Peninsula Library System and community agencies in San Mateo County to host 20 free events and promote the #IMHEREFORYOU: Connection to Suicide Prevention campaign that aims to equip individuals with words and resources to connect with people who may be thinking about suicide. Events include support groups, informational presentations, volunteer opportunities, day of prayer, film screenings and craft workshops. 

“With the support of the Mental Health Services Act, San Mateo County needs to build our suicide prevention community through community education, provider trainings and conversations about suicide prevention.  In general, we need to reduce stigma around suicide, build partnerships and take a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention,” says the co-chair of the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee, Sylvia Tang.

Our theme for Suicide Prevention Month is interpersonal connectedness. Studies show that “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships,” making it an important protective factor to prevent suicide. 

One San Mateo County community member has said “I wanted to die, and for the first time in my life, I plotted how would be the easiest and most painless way to go. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought. But the pain of not choosing my life and leaving my daughter to fend for life alone was even more terrifying. I chose MY life.” We know that interpersonal connections are a strong protective factor in suicide prevention and this month we want to highlight how we can support SMC in developing those connections. 

You Can Prevent Suicide

In the last couple of years several well-known figures in the food and entertainment industries died by suicide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the U.S. Many of us have been personally impacted by the death of someone we know or someone we love. The problem can sometimes seem insurmountable.

While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. You can make contributions, big or small, including:  

  • Forge connections within your community.  Check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling. Offer your ear, shoulder and love to communicate to them that #ImHereForYou.
  • Learn the warning signs and how to help by visiting suicideispreventable.org or by participating in a local training. For more information on trainings, contact Sylvia Tang (stang@smcgov.org or 650-578-7165).

  • Share local crisis hotlines. These are key 24/7 crisis hotlines that would be good to have handy (e.g. on your phone or in your wallet). These numbers are there for you whether you (or a loved one) are in a crisis or just want to talk.
    • StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County)​ – 650-579-0350
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741

  • Promote September Suicide Prevention Month. Attend or spread the word about one of the September Suicide Prevention Month events or wear purple or teal. You can reach out to the Office of Diversity and Equity to pick up purple/teal ribbons. For updates and details, please visit smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention. 
  • Join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. To help prevent suicide year-round, please consider joining the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. The Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC) provides oversight and direction to suicide prevention efforts in the County. The coalition usually meets the 1st Tuesday of the month 1:30-3pm. Meeting schedule can be found here.

If you or someone you know considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

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