EUGENE, Ore.- Local advocacy groups in Lane County are finding new ways to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
Sara Scofield is a suicide prevention advocate and resident in Eugene. She also has lived experience. Scofield's father committed suicide when she was only 9-years-old. And her brother committed suicide in 2011.
"I've kind of been no stranger to suicide for most of my life," said Scofield.
Scofield also attempted suicide decades ago. With the help of her family, she was able to find help.
"I have been living in recovery for about twenty years, so I am actively working on my mental health with medication and therapists, and really doing everything I can to break down the stigma," said Scofield.
Scofield told KEZI 9 News the stigma of suicide is still strong, and people are often uncomfortable talking about it. But she said that is exactly what people like her need, someone who is willing to talk to them about their struggles.
She is a volunteer with the Suicide Coalition of Lane County. She hosts events called QPRs, or 'Question, Persuade, and Refer'. These are training sessions meant to help anyone who wants to lend a helping hand to those struggling in the community, but might not be sure how.
Scofield said people need to take advantage of these resources.
"If we don't all start to make these changes, and all start to say 'Wait, this doesn't seem right,' and also there's something we can do. Suicide is preventable," said Scofield.
In the past couple of years, suicide death rates of dropped nearly 6%. According to Mental Health Promotion Coordinator for Lane County Public Health, Roger Brubaker, this is surprising.
"Ultimately, the long-term consequences of this are still unknown. And I always want to emphasize that to people because I think that there's also a little hidden kernel in there that we might be more resilient than we even know," said Brubaker.
There are different ways community members can show their support for those struggling. On Thursday, September 9th, on the Ferry Street Bridge, people will be able to see "Signs for Hope", a campaign to show community members who might be struggling that they aren't alone. And there is also "Mental Health First Aid", an 8-hour course where people can learn how to help someone in crisis.
Scofield said even with all that she has gone through, she is continuing to fight for those who need it. And she said the first thing people need to do is get comfortable with talking about suicide.
"I think that the most important thing about suicide prevention advocacy is stop hiding it, stop being quiet, talk about it. It's fine to speak about it and get to the bottom of. It's the only way we're going to get healthy," said Scofield.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is open 24/7 for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. That number is 1-800-273-8255.