Washington State Department of Health employees Neetha Mony and Douglas Wagoner contributed to this story.
After Cal Beyer’s friend, Jeff, died by suicide in February 2015, Beyer learned that he had missed the warning signs of a person in crisis. Beyer hired Jeff in 2004 and provided Jeff support when he struggled. Beyer, however, didn’t realize the full extent of the pain that Jeff hid from others.
“I could have been bolder,” Beyer said. “If I had known, I would have gone to his home and gotten him help. None of us knew the depths to which he had fallen.”
Beyer’s story about loss is not unique. In 2017, at least three Washingtonians died by suicide every day. Washington’s suicide rate has increased steadily since 2006. Disproportionately affected populations include American Indian and Alaska Natives, people living in rural communities, males (especially older males), veterans and members of the armed forces and their families.
Legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee have honed in on suicide prevention efforts as a key priority. In 2016, the state Department of Health developed its 2016 Washington State Suicide Prevention Plan which has helped guide prevention efforts with partners across the state. This past December, Inslee proposed additional funding for suicide prevention strategies that include paying for improvements to the crisis hotline, connecting K-12 students to mental health community services, and implementing clinical best practice tools to help people who experience suicidal thoughts.
Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.