Sheboygan group focuses on suicide prevention strategy

Suicide continues to remain a preventable, yet significant, health problem in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy, released in 2015, reports there was an annual average of 712 suicide deaths from 2007-2011. Suicide occurs among all groups of people and regardless of one’s age, gender or socioeconomic status. The Burden of Suicide in Wisconsin 2007-2011 report, findings released in 2014, included data that Wisconsin’s suicide rate is four times higher than the homicide rate and approximately 5,500 Wisconsin residents were hospitalized due to intentional, self-inflicted injury. The Wisconsin Interactive Statistics for Health reported Sheboygan County to have had 12.8 suicides per 100,000 from 2009-2013. Data speaks volumes and it is evident we must continue to work together on a local level in meaningful, strategic ways to prevent further deaths by suicide.

Strategies have been outlined that can help support communities in suicide prevention. The four overarching goals developed from the Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy included: 1) Increase and enhance protective (preventative) factors 2) Increase access to care for at-risk populations, 3) Implement best practices for suicide within health care systems, and 4) Improve monitoring and evaluation of suicide and suicide prevention strategies.

Mental Health America (MHA), a local nonprofit in Sheboygan County, is proud to report countless efforts are under way to address all goal areas by organizations within our systems of care, including public health, hospital/health care systems and in our school environments.

One example is the work being done for our youth populations. MHA is focusing on increasing protective factors through providing social and emotional mindful-based curriculum to participating schools in the 2017-2018 school year.

United Way of Sheboygan County continues to prioritize prevention and mental health with their PATH (Providing Access to Healing) initiative, which provides based mental health services.

Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 is leading an effort in bringing SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment), a framework model, to schools as well to help identify and support students who will benefit from additional focused supports. Another effort has been to train over 18 individuals in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) for suicide prevention trainings, which will be offered to the community at no charge later this fall.

I invite you to help us continue our community’s suicide prevention efforts in both our schools and elsewhere by showing your support for our upcoming “There is Hope, Suicide Awareness and Prevention” event on the morning of Sept. 9, kicking off National Suicide Prevention Week.

The funds raised support MHA’s three focus areas of 1) prevention/education, 2) increasing access to care and 3) recovery support services in Sheboygan County.

If you or a loved one are having imminent thoughts of suicide, please contact Sheboygan County’s Mental Health Crisis Line at (920)-459-3151 or call 91-1. You can also reach the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-(800)-273-TALK (8255).

For more information on Mental Health America in Sheboygan County’s services, such as information and referrals to a mental health professional or information to register for our There is Hope Walk, please call (920)-458-3951, email info@, or visit

Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and cochair of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Committee, Chair of the Stigma Committee.