SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. May 30, 2023— Every city in Santa Clara County has now formally adopted a city suicide prevention policy. The development is a result of years-long work by the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Service Department’s (BHSD) Suicide Prevention Program.
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Susan Ellenberg called it “a big step in addressing mental health and opening dialogue about something impacting people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds.”
“Suicide prevention policy adoption by each city is a powerful public statement of our communities’ growing focus on mental health,” Ellenberg said. “Our county takes great pride in this as we once again lead by example for other counties and communities, showing that this prioritization at the local level helps save lives.”
With support from suicide prevention stakeholders, Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee co-chair Vic Ojakian led the effort advocating for city suicide prevention policies through work with local and state government representatives, officials, and staff. The policies promote suicide prevention in local communities and increase collaborative efforts with the County’s Suicide Prevention Program, helping to fight the stigma against suicide and save lives. Most city suicide prevention policies in the county were adopted unanimously.
“Cities are not required to have suicide prevention policies. Working with the cities to pass suicide prevention policies was a long process but one that we feel was part of our commitment to strive to keep our communities healthy,” said Vic Ojakian.
Local suicide prevention policies ensure that cities collaborate and engage in suicide prevention best practices, such as the following:
- Acknowledge suicide as a public health issue
- Support suicide prevention strategies
- Educate residents on suicide, its warning signs, and where to seek help
- Establish and follow formal procedures to share resources and follow safe messaging best practices when communicating with the community
- Adopt and activate postvention protocols when a suicide occurs in the community
In the cities of Palo Alto, Morgan Hill, and Milpitas, passage of suicide prevention policies led to the establishment of city-level suicide prevention taskforces that collaborate with the County’s Suicide Prevention Program and expand efforts to the cities.
Following the County’s adoption of a suicide prevention policy in 2010, cities began passing their own policies beginning in 2012. By the end of 2020, seven city policies were in place. Then in 2021, six more were passed, with one more coming last year. The final city-level policy was formally adopted in February.
Established in 2010, the County’s Suicide Prevention Program has the mission of reducing and preventing suicides in Santa Clara County. The program works to achieve its mission through various community activities, including providing crisis intervention services; conducting public awareness campaigns and community outreach; providing mental health and suicide prevention training to professionals and the public; partnering with schools to strengthen suicide crisis response and prevention; and providing grief supports following suicide deaths in the community.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.