Category Archives: Suicide Prevention

AACI Hosts Black History Month Kick Off Event: Empowerment Begins with You

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On Saturday, January 27th, African American Community Initiative (AACI) will be kicking off Black History month with a fun, informative, and free event celebrating the wellness, resilience, and recovery of the African American Community. 

Stop by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to share stories, promote wellness and take one step towards improving the well being of our communities. With a focus on understanding substance use and suicide risk in the African American community, the event will feature a resource fair, informative presentations, a Photovoice panel where young people will share their stories, cultural entertainment, children’s activities and a free soulful lunch.

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K-Pop Artist’s Death by Suicide Sparks Conversation About Mental Health

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A portrait of Kim Jong-Hyun on a mourning altar at a hospital in Seoul on December 19, 2017.

Millions of fans mourn the tragic loss of K-Pop star, Kim Jong-Hyun, better known as Jonghyun, who died by suicide on Monday at the age of 27. Jonghyun was best known as the lead singer of K-Pop band, SHINee which rose to fame after the release of its debut EP, Replay, in 2008. As well as being a singer and accomplished dancer, Jonghyun played a large part in the group’s song writing and production.  He had also made headlines for speaking out on issues of the government’s education policy and in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

Jonghyun was considered one of the most talented and well- rounded artists in the K-Pop music industry. According to SM Entertainment, the singer’s management company, “Jonghyun is the best artist who loved music more than anyone else, enjoyed the stage, and loved to communicate with fans through his music. We will always remember you.”

Suicide continues to be a prevalent public health issue primarily due to the constant stigmatization of mental health. A petition on change.org was created in honor of Jonghyun asking for more mental health support for artists in the entertainment industry. The petition explicitly asks for all entertainment industries to make a plan or program to monitor mental health in their employees as well as ensuring that the program would not be used against them and harm their careers. This petition, once reaching its goal of 300,000 signatures is expected to be delivered to Entertainment Industries and the South Korean Government.

Hopefully this petition will increase conversations about mental health and suicide prevention as well as recognition of its importance in saving a life.

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How Knowing the Signs Can Help Save a Life

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Natalie Andrade with ALGEE the MHFA mascot

Before I started working at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), I did not have a clue as to what the warning signs of suicide, depression, and anxiety were. It wasn’t until I became a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor that I realized the importance of knowing the signs of mental health challenges. During my instructor training, taught by two amazing trainers from the National Council, I felt empowered to go back to my community and teach others important skills one can learn from the training. Knowing the signs of suicide can help save a life, yet the most challenging piece of knowing the signs is having the courage to start the conversation about suicide with someone you are concerned about.

In the YMHFA training, participants practice using a 5-step action plan called ALGEE, which stands for:

 

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

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Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee

The room was filled with a standing audience at the first Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee in Westborough on Friday, November 17 6:00-8:00PM.  District 5 Supervisor David Canepa, the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FHMI) and Chinese Health Initiative (CHI) hosted this event and plan to host more on an ongoing basis. There were youth and adults who shared their poems and many shared very personal lived experience with mental health, addiction and suicidal ideation. The room was filled with not only people but courage from the poets and support from the audience.

Written by Sylvia Tang, Co-Chair of Suicide Prevention Committee

Learn more about suicide prevention at: smchealth.org/suicide-prevention

Overcoming Violence against Trans Community

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Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants.  Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.

On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.

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Native American Heritage Month: The Power of Visibility

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This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).

With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.

Native Americans face a large number of behavioral health challenges, including suicide risk. Across all ages, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/ AN) populations in the U.S. experience high risk for suicide, with an overall suicide rate of 11.7 individuals per 100,000. This rate is greater than that for all other subgroups except white males, who have a suicide rate of 23.4 individuals per 100,000. Source

The existence of Native American Heritage Month alone does not have the capability to improve the lives or health outcomes of Native Americans living in San Mateo County. We as individuals and as a community must make an active effort to celebrate Native American achievements and educate ourselves about current challenges to make the month meaningful.
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What does “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean for the Latino community?

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For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.

But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?

When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow. 

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