The Saratoga Sun -

Saratoga gets suicide talk


Zachary Laux

BJ Ayers, Wyoming Suicide Precvention Specialist, leads a workshop on suicide prevention Thursday in the Platte Valley Community Center.

A suicide prevention specialist visited Saratoga to give community members some tools.

Not hammers and screw drivers, but knowledge and skills to help identify and prevent suicide in Saratoga.

BJ Ayers, Wyoming suicide prevention specialist, led a suicide prevention training activity Thursday. Those who attended learned how to identify signs of suicide and help prevent someone from committing suicide.

“It’s time for all of us, especially in Wyoming, to wake up and realize suicide is a public health issue,” Ayers said.

Ayers is also the executive director of Grace of 2 Brothers, a nonprofit organization that helps spread suicide prevention awareness. Ayers is the mother of two sons who committed suicide.

Wyoming has always had a big problem with suicide, Ayers said in the workshop. Now, Wyoming has the highest suicide rate per capita in the nation.

The biggest problem with suicide in Wyoming is no one wants to talk about it, Ayers said.

“Talking about suicide is difficult, but I think that is where we have to reduce that stigma,” Ayers said in the training session. “Ask the question because if you don’t, you may have passed your opportunity to help someone.”

Ayers came to lead the training session partially thanks to Sally Patton, a community prevention professional in Saratoga. Patton organized the training because she saw a need in the community.

“We are a community that responds really well in a time of crisis,” Patton said, but Saratoga needs to be proactive about suicide.

In the training session, Ayers presented a three-step process known as QPR, or Question, Persuade and Refer, to help prevent someone from committing suicide. All who attended received a QPR gatekeeper certificate. QPR is not meant to be a form of counseling or treatment, but a way to offer hope through positive action, Ayers said during her presentation. QPR is meant to identify someone who needs help, offer them support and refer them to someone who can provide counseling or treatment.

Ayers’ office also offers other suicide prevention services as well.

“(Wyoming) is on the cutting edge of suicide prevention,” Ayers said.

9:30 a.m. on March 27, a webinar titled “Suicide Prevention: WHAT Must We do to Save a Life” will air. The state is also hosting a training session April 17 in Casper. The training will prepare attendants how to teach others to prevent suicide, Ayers said.

Ayers plans to return to Carbon County May 8 for a two-day workshop that is more in-depth than Thursday’s QPR training.

Ayers said suicide prevention training will bring the tools and education necessary to dramatically decrease the number of suicides in Wyoming.

“You can only do what you can do, but what you can do will amaze yourself if you stick with that person,” Ayers said.


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