EUGENE, ORE. -- Suicides in Oregon have been on the rise, and Dr. Pilar Bradshaw has organized a teen suicide prevention summit to bring to the community together to create change.
Since the beginning of 2018, five adolescents have committed suicide in Lane County. This cluster of suicides concerned Bradshaw, the owner of Eugene Pediatric Associates and Thrive Behavioral Health. To combat the problem, she has organized the summit to give schools, health organizations and officials the opportunity to discuss prevention and intervention methods, and develop clear partnerships.
Bradshaw said she is hoping to start a prevention program called Hope Squad in schools by next fall. It is a peer-based program aimed to help students who are in crisis.
Bradshaw said about 70% of teenagers who commit suicide told friends instead of adults. She said by using the adult-supervised program in schools, they can better identify the students who need help.
"The biggest thing is, this is not going to help just the kids that are really depressed and contemplating hurting themselves," Bradshaw said. "This is something that is going to change, I hope, the culture in schools, from what it is now which is kind of a very negative and difficult environment for our teens, to something that is much, much more positive. The difference is, it's not going to be driven by adults. This is going to be driven by the kids."
Brian Megert, the special programs director for the Springfield School District said more support for suicide prevention is needed. He said they have seen the numbers of students thinking about or trying to commit suicide increase over the years.
Megert said they do the best they can to respond, but too often they find out about it after the fact. He said they want to be involved before it gets to the point.
"We do have a huge range of student needs and this is one area we really haven't been able to address as well as we wanted to over time," Megert said. "We are fully invested in supporting mental health needs and specifically around suicide concerns."
Megert said by improving communication with outside agencies, they will be able to provide quicker and more robust suicide prevention services to students.
The summit will be held on April 24 at the Valley River Inn.