The suicide rate in St. Tammany Parish has risen 30% from 2005 to 2010.  In addition, Orders of Protective Custody, Coroner’s Emergency Certificates and Physician’s Emergency Certificates have risen over 300% in that same time period.

Compounding issues: 

Law enforcement is generally the first response agency for each suicide attempt.  In 2010, there were at least 484 reported attempts.  In addition, deputies are often called upon to assess calls involving mental health situations to determine if harm to self or others is a potential factor.  Law enforcement needs immediate accessibility to trained mental health professionals to make these determinations and assist when faced with responding to suicide attempts.

After intervention by law enforcement, follow up care is needed to prevent recurrence.  Post-Katrina, there has been a shortage of mental health professionals in the region available to provide care to persons with mental health issues and their families. 

New Actions- Emergency:

St. Tammany Parish Government, in partnership with United Way and over 20 other social services agencies, is initiating the following actions to assist with these issues: [view partner agencies]

Crisis Response Team:  St. Tammany Parish has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Volunteers of America to provide Crisis Response Teams.  The Crisis Response Teams will tie together all available resources during a crisis.
Upon a request from law enforcement, crisis response counselors will deploy to the scene of the crisis, do an on-site assessment of individuals in crisis and make a recommendation about the appropriate action to be taken.  Counselors will be available to provide support and referrals for family members.  The counselors will ease the burden on first responders and help these responders return to their duties and expedite assistance to citizens.

The Crisis Response counselors will assist someone in crisis and his/her family by providing intervention, information, counseling, support and referrals to facilitate recovery.  In addition, counselors will follow-up with the family and provide after-care case management services, as needed.  This approach will ensure that individuals and families get all services needed to address the immediate crisis and strengthen protective factors.  This will lead to stabilization of the individual and the family.

Psychiatric Assistance:  The Crisis Response counselor will make referrals as appropriate to several agencies including the new St. Tammany Community Health Center.  The Center will have a Licensed Clinic Social Worker and a Psychiatrist on staff to work in partnership with the Crisis Response Team.  St. Tammany Parish has entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Community Health Center to provide these services.

Counseling:   Additional counseling will be provided by the Mental Health Association of St. Tammany and St. Tammany Outreach for the Prevention of Suicide (STOPS) as appropriate.  These agencies will work with patients and their families. 

Patients will receive counseling and referrals as necessary.  The National Association of Mental Illness will assist with facilitation of family education programs and support groups.

Families will be assisted with identifying the signs and symptoms of suicide, and aided in restoring family stability in these situations. Families of persons who have committed suicide will also be provided counseling.

Actions- Non-emergency:

Citizens needing to access the Suicide Prevention Support System in a non-emergency situation should call 2-1-1.  The 2-1-1 staff is able to provide the caller with immediate assistance.  The 2-1-1 system is the best access point for citizens with non-emergency suicide prevention and mental health resource needs.   Vialink administers the 2-1-1 program with funding from United Way.