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By Caroline Fleck

Preventing Suicide in the Bay Area

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2015

There are a couple of factors that make crises difficult to manage:

1. They are often unexpected
2. By definition, they represent moments of extreme emotional upheaval
3. As readers of my blog know, we don't typically think clearly during periods of extreme distress and are thus ill equipped to make complex decisions or problem solve effectively

Not surprisingly, this constellation of factors can have devastating results when the crisis one is experiencing is psychological or emotional in nature. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 (2010 CDC WISQARS). More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.

I could continue to rattle off statistics, but instead I'll just cut to the point - suicide has become a major national health problem. And it's a problem that isn't helped by the tension and dis-ease it evokes; to be honest, I hesitated for a moment before writing this post for fear that it would be too "heavy" of a topic. I then of course realized that in avoiding the issue I would be inadvertently contributing to the problem.

Instead, I've opted to use this forum to share some local and national suicide prevention resources. Again, a crisis is not generally an optimal time to be conducting research or trying to coordinate resources. If you or someone you know have experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviors in the past, please consider bookmarking the following information.

National Resources
1. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24 hours/day to people all across the country. Their website encourages individuals to call if they feel they are in crisis, even if they are not thinking about suicide.

2. Adolescents in crisis can text "start" to the number 741-741 in order to connect with the Crisis Text Line.

3. Facebook is currently in the process of rolling out features that provide users with ways of managing concerning content posted by friends. Specifically, the features (which are currently available to about half of all current users and should be available to all in the coming months) allow you to flag troubling content, get advice on how to reach out to the friend, and will even send the friend resources at your request. All of this is in an effort to help users respond more effectively and immediately to potential crises.

Bay Area Resources:
Without a doubt, the most comprehensive list of emergency suicide risk facilities in the Bay area can be found at Merritt Mental Health. Here you can receive directories for emergency services for specific regions of the Bay area (San Francisco, South Bay, etc.). I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Merritt several weeks ago regarding his efforts to organize and distribute this information and can personally attest to the thoroughness of his methods and his commitment to this work.

Peninsula and South Bay Resources:
All of the following locations provide inpatient psychiatric services for adults (meaning suicidal or self-injurious adults can be admitted to the hospital for stabilization). Although most also provide evaluations for adolescents and children, Sutter Health Mills Health Center is the only one that can admit adolescents to the hospital for stabilization.

1. El Camino Hospital (Mountain View, 650-940-7000)
2, Good Samaritan Hospital (San Jose, 408-559-2011)
3. Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center (Santa Clara, 408-851-1000)
4. San Mateo Medical Center (San Mateo, 650-573-2222)
5. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (San Jose, 408-885-5000)
6. Stanford Hospital (650-723-5111)
7. Sutter Health Mills Health Center (Burlingame, 650-696-5915)

This is just a snapshot of the national and local resources available to those in crisis. If you know or would recommend any other hotlines, text services, or facilities, please feel free to share the information below.