AHEC provides suicide and safety planning to area health professionals
by The Press and Standard | July 5, 2018 5:00 pm
Last Updated: July 3, 2018 at 11:56 am
By CINDY CROSBY
The Lowcountry Area Health Education Center (AHEC) held a Suicide Screening and Safety Planning three-hour program Monday June 25 at Lowcountry AHEC, 87 Academy Rd., Walterboro.
Designed for health care professionals, but open to students and community members, the program was led by Alex Karydi, PhD, LMFT, CAC, CSAC, a certified drug and alcohol counselor who has been trained in the impact of minority stress. She is currently the project director for the S.C. Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative, a community movement to end suicide in children and young adults.
Monday’s program presented participants with current suicide rates and challenged them to examine the language they use when discussing suicide. They also learned about the continuum of suicide risk, how to identify warning signs and protective factors. Participants also learned how to utilize the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), conduct a suicide risk assessment, and develop a collaborative safety plan.
“As the 2nd-leading cause of death in South Carolina for ages 10-24 in 2017, and the 10th-leading cause of death for all ages in 2016, suicide challenges the entire human services spectrum of clinical resources and the services they perform,” said Diane Mathews, MS, director of Lowcountry AHEC.
“Our job is to train health professionals,” said Mathews. “We are hoping that we can make a difference in the problem by providing training, assessment and screening information and distributing up-to-date information. The need is enormous. Our job at AHEC is to make sure, whether you are in a rural or urban area as a health professional, that you are receiving the same information as other areas.”
Jasmine Douglas, continuing professional development coordinator at AHEC, said Monday’s program became necessary based on 11 local suicides over the past year. “Colleton County is No. 5 out of 46 counties in the state of South Carolina for high suicide rates,” said Douglas. “Suicide has become more prevalent in our community and in our state recently. We thought, what can we do for our community and how can we make a difference? This is one way in which we can do so.”
The Lowcountry AHEC is one of four regional AHEC centers in the state of South Carolina and serves 12 southeastern counties in South Carolina as part of the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium. Lowcountry AHEC is a private not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization and a member of the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium.
Lowcountry AHEC connects high school students to careers in health, college healthcare students to their communities and healthcare professionals to continuing education through three core services: Health Careers Program, Health Professions Students and Continuing Education.
Lowcountry AHEC is planning another Suicide Screening and Safety Planning course for Friday Aug. 3 from 9 a.m.–12 noon. For more information or for early registration contact Lowcountry AHEC at 843.782.5052.