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DHS news release

Nov. 11, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contact: Donna Noonan (503) 872-5332

Local contacts are listed with the locations below


Communities host suicide survivors conferences

The Northwest Chapter of the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, with support from the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), is offering survivor conferences in four Oregon communities on November 20.

The statewide youth suicide prevention plan, developed by DHS, calls on communities to support survivors. People who have lost a loved one to suicide are invited to participate.


"AFSP is an organization of survivors--people who have lost children or other loved ones to suicide," said Donna Noonan, youth suicide prevention coordinator in DHS. "This conference, now in its sixth year, offers an opportunity for survivors to gather for support, education, healing and empowerment."


The national program, set to run for 90 minutes, will feature a panel of survivors and a roundtable discussion with two national psychiatric experts. It will be broadcast live at 9 a.m. and on the Web at www.afsp.org with an online chat immediately afterward. Oregon sites will feature activities and programming following the broadcast.

Community conference locations are:


Coos Bay: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at South Coast Hospice, 1620 Thompson Road. Potluck brunch will be served and there is no registration fee. For information, contact Steve Krajcir at (541) 269-2986 or s.krajcir@schospice.org


Eugene/Springfield: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Peace Health Annex, 123 International Way in Springfield. Catered lunch will be served and there is a sliding fee of $10 to $20. For information, contact Jill Hollingsworth at (541) 747-2087 or jillh@efn.org (Pre-registration required)


Medford: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Smullin Health Center, 2825 Barnett Road. Donations are welcome. For information, contact Angel at (541) 772-2527 or Richard at (541) 774-9180 or baldhoss@charter.net


Portland: 8:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at OHSU Biomedical Information Communications Center, 3181 Jackson Park Road in Portland. Brunch will be served and there is a $20 registration fee. Contact Laurie Herber at (503) 650-5595 or afspnw@yahoo.com


Noonan said if survivors find it difficult to attend in person, or don't have a conference in their area, they can find the program live online at www.afsp.org


In Oregon, 548 people died by suicide in 2003. Researchers estimate that for every suicide death there are seven survivors. Survivors can experience bereavement that is complicated by guilt and shame due to social stigma and misconceptions about suicide, Noonan said.


DHS coordinates youth suicide prevention activities and, working in partnership with communities, developed a statewide action plan for preventing youth suicide in 2000. DHS is working with communities to develop a similar plan focused on the problem of elder suicide. The Northwest Chapter of AFSP has been a strong partner in those projects. Prevention information is on the DHS Web site.