December 13, 2016
The Oregon Athletic Coaches Association (OACA) along with the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), the Oregon Athletic Directors Association (OADA) and the Oregon Athletic Trainers’ Society (OATS) have joined forces this school year to bring about Youth Suicide Awareness in our state. High School Coaches and Athletic Trainers share a unique role in watching for signs of emotional distress in their student/athletes due to the relationships they share. Our goal is to promote and educate those who have direct daily contact with those who might have signs and symptoms that could lead to the risk of a suicide attempt. We would appreciate you sharing this email and attachment with your coaching staff, athletic trainer(s) and any other pertinent staff.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in our nation. In Oregon, it has been increasing since 2000, outpacing the national average in 2012 by 42 percent. I recently read that, “Youth Suicide is like a bomb. There is shrapnel and the closer you are to it, the deeper the wound. But it does not just affect those nearby, there is no one that is not affected.” If your school district has experienced a youth suicide in the past you know how true this statement is!
We plan on spreading awareness by providing to our Coaches and Athletic Trainers Youth Suicide Awareness articles throughout the school year with the initial article attached. It was written by Ann Kirkwood who is the Oregon Health Authority Suicide Intervention Coordinator. We are working with the Oregon Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in providing presenter(s) that will make two breakout presentations to our Athletic Directors at their April State Conference. That information then can be shared with each school’s athletic department personnel. Similar to our Coaches vs. Cancer Campaign in January (information to be shared by broadcast email, Thursday, Dec. 15) we will designate the month of May as Oregon High School’s Youth Suicide Awareness month. Individual schools and communities will provide opportunities for Youth Suicide Awareness to their students and staff. May was chosen as research shows an increase in Youth Suicide attempts in June and July. As Ann states in her articles the ultimate goal for the OACA, OSAA, OADA, OATS through our 2017 Youth Suicide Campaign is Zero Suicide in Oregon High Schools.