- Project Title: Tulare County Suicide Prevention Task Force
- Program Representative Interviewed: Noah Whitaker, Task Force Director
- Location: Tulare County, California
Program Overview: The Tulare County Suicide Prevention
Task Force (SPTF) was established in 2009, with representatives from various sectors to create a
multi-disciplinary collaborative to prevent suicide. In its ten years, the SPTF has evolved to meet the
needs of its largely-rural community while improving awareness of suicide as a preventable public health
problem, expanding screening for at-risk groups, and offering support for survivors of suicide (someone who
has lost a loved one to suicide).
One example of how the SPTF has tailored their programs to their community is through the Older Adult Hopelessness Screening (OAHS) program. The program was started following an alarming increase in suicides among older adults in the area. OAHS offers routine screening for hopelessness in older adults who visit the public health clinic, and has specialized mental health case managers available onsite for follow up as needed. This offers older adults a discreet way of seeking mental health treatment and is a good example of using screening tools effectively. The SPTF also has a Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team of community members who are dispatched following a suicide death in the community. The team is made up of volunteers who have experienced a loss by suicide themselves and are able to refer survivors to grief and bereavement counseling free of charge.
In addition to these two programs, the SPTF offers support groups, mental health and suicide prevention training, and partners with local artists for projects like the Hope Comic Book.