Idaho’s investment of nearly $1 million last year to launch a new state Office of Suicide Prevention came “in the nick of time,” state public health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch told JFAC this morning, as she shared new data on suicide in Idaho: In 2015, 362 people in Idaho took their lives, an increase of 13 percent from 2014; and Idaho moved from 9th in the nation to 5th for the highest rates of suicide deaths.
“So we are feeling extremely grateful that we have this program,” Shaw-Tulloch told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. All four positions in the new office have been filled, she reported, and the program is established, working with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, the state Department of Education and the Suicide Prevention Action Network. “We’re also working on developing a public awareness campaign,” she said. “The program will be giving an update to both House and Senate Health & Welfare committees on Feb. 14.”
Shaw-Tulloch said, “The program has been in high demand. We are giving lots of presentations and training. … We’re very, very grateful to have that program.”
Suicide Prevention and Awareness is now one of four programs under the state Division of Public Health Services; the others are Physical Health Services, which includes immunization, disease prevention, food safety and more; Emergency Medical Services, which licenses and coordinates EMS personnel statewide and operates the statewide EMS communications center; and Laboratory Services, which serves health departments and state agencies.