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September marks National Suicide Awareness Month; Central Oregon offers help, support, training events

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- This month, in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Deschutes County, in collaboration with the Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance, is coordinating several activities to build awareness and work toward preventing suicide attempts and deaths.

"Knowing all the statistics and that this is a health issue, we all want to be involved and it's really important for us to to prevent suicide." Caroline Suiter, mental health promotion strategist for Deschutes County, said Thursday.

Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death in the United States, with one suicide occurring on average, every 11 minutes. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. youth ages 10 to 24. Historically, in Deschutes County, roughly three individuals die by suicide each month. 

Bethany Kuschel, the county's suicide prevention program coordinator, said, "What we know is that one of the most tangible things that we can do to prevent suicide is become trained in the warning signs that someone might be at risk."

"Learn how to intervene with them, and then how to move them on and provide resources and referrals, so that they can access help and support to work through their crisis," she said.

Earlier this month, the Deschutes County Suicide Prevention Program released their second Suicide Data Trend Report. This report aims to not only provide information regarding suicide trends in Deschutes County from 2000-2020, but also to share applicable information that individuals, groups, and organizations may need to help prevent suicide in Deschutes County. To access the report, visit

"By us being able to talk openly that this is a health issue, trying to destigmatize the conversation and recognizing that a lot of us have ups and downs and mental health issues throughout our lives. But that is something that's just a part of being a human being., Suiter shared.

One death by suicide is too many. Early recognition of warning signs and early intervention can save lives. The activities planned for this month will raise awareness in our community to address this important public health issue, share resources with community members for those who may be in crisis in the future, and to promote hope and healing.

Kuschel said, "Over 90% of their calls can be de-escalated just on a phone call, or a text, by listening to someone and letting them share what they're up against. and not having to involve emergency services or any other crisis supports. So from that data, we know that just listening and talking to people can be really effective."

Community members are encouraged to attend one or more of these opportunities to support suicide survivors in our community, learn about resources and mental wellness, and to learn more about how to help themselves or someone they love if they are struggling with suicide. Visit for more information.

Candlelight Vigil

Thursday, Sept. 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.,

Bend-La Pine Schools Education Center Front Lawn, 520 NW Wall Street, Bend

This event is for anyone that has lost a loved one to suicide. The Vigil includes music, a candle lighting ceremony, and community-building activities. Attendees will have the opportunity to light a candle to honor their loved one at sunset. We respectfully ask that the media not attend this event to respect the privacy of participants.

This event will be accessible in English and Spanish.

Out of the Darkness Walk

Saturday, Sept. 9, check in at 10 a.m., walk starts at 11a.m.,

Alpenglow Park, 61049 SE 15th St, Bend

Hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and supported by Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance, the Out of the Darkness Walk is meant to give people the courage to open up about their own connections to the cause, and a platform to create a culture that can help lower the stigma when it comes to mental health. Friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers walk side-by-side, supporting each other and in memory of those we’ve lost. Register at:

Deschutes County Board of County Commissioners Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Proclamation 

Monday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m.

Deschutes County Services Building, Allen Room (Second Floor), 1300 NW Wall Street, Bend

The Deschutes County Board of County Commissioners will be recognizing the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Deschutes County. This proclamation will include a brief presentation on Deschutes County suicide data and the current efforts to help lower our suicide rates. Meetings are livestreamed online at

Community Question, Persuade, Refer [QPR] Suicide Prevention Training

Thursday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Downtown Bend Public Library, Brooks Room, 601 NW Wall Street, Bend

QPR is a 1.5-hour evidence-based introduction to suicide prevention training. This free training teaches the framework for participants to be able to recognize warning signs, ask directly about suicide, persuade someone to access resources and then refer them on to the appropriate supports. This training is open for participants ages 18+.

If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call or click away:

  • Deschutes County Crisis Line: 541-322-7500 ext 9
  • Deschutes County Stabilization Center: 63311 NE Jamison St. Bend
  • National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988 (text or call)
  • Español: Llame 988 or envia “AYUDA” al 988
  • Veterans: Call 988 then press 1, or text 838225
  • Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Dial 711 then 988 or text 988
  • Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance’s Resource page:    

If you are 21 or younger and want support for any problem, big or small, text teen2teen to 839863 or call YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491.

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a Multimedia Journalist for NewsChannel 21.


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