I was at our local CeaseFire Advisory Board meeting this morning and was impressed by the number of interventions they had done over the last month. They really seem to be making a difference in the community, lessening the risk of violence. CeaseFire, as I think I’ve mentioned before, is a violence intervention/prevention program that originated in Chicago. It is based on what can be described as a “public health model” of violence prevention. They react to violent deaths and other incidents and work to “prevent transmission” of that violence. They also do some “primary prevention” to prevent violent behavior from manifesting itself in the first place.
What came up this morning, in addition to the successes that they are having, is the rather unexpected amount of suicidal ideation and suicide potential that they are “uncovering” among the individuals they contact (in the streets, in their homes, and in schools). It is becoming very apparent that individuals at risk of violent actions (by themselves or by others against them) are also at risk of suicide.
This suicidality will need to be addressed. The outreach workers and “interveners” are unprepared to deal with this actuality. These folks can’t continue to go out without the wherewithal to deal with this suicidality. We will be bringing a program into the county through our Suicide Prevention Task Force that should work very well with these folks (QPR, Question Persuade Refer) and most definitely we will include them in trainings.
It is amazing how problems/issues overlap and interrelate. There are no single issue, stand alone problems; therefore “real” solutions must be multifaceted as well to really address problems/issues. Realizing that to deal with violence job training, job placement, housing, healthcare and mental health care, after school programs, etc also are there and must be dealt with; it isn’t a simple as “just say no”. The “public health model” (or community health model) fits well with this, allowing for expanding thought so that whatever “treatment” is needed can and will be brought to bear on the “patient”.