Excerpts from Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council, District 6 newsletter
Overdose Awareness Day & Opioid Use
Next Tuesday (Aug. 22), we will acknowledge International Overdose Awareness Day, which is recognized annually on Aug. 31. As we continue to read headlines on the impacts of fentanyl in our community and the reality of accidental overdoses, it becomes even more important that people know the signs and what to do.
During our Health and Human Services meeting the following Tuesday (Aug. 29), we will dive into the data around Pierce County drug use and overdose. We will also have the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department present to provide training on administering the lifesaving and overdose-reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan). Even if you don’t know someone in your life who is using drugs, we find unsuspecting individuals getting “dosed” while doing other activities, such as vaping. Knowing what to do and what to look for can save a life.
There will be events around Pierce County to help educate community members around signs and symptoms but we will also pause to remember those lost. The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, and several partners that work in the field with individuals that use drugs will host some memorial space. Time to remember those lost to drugs in our community.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
The Council will also acknowledge Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – which is observed in September every year – with a Proclamation at the Council meeting on Aug. 29. This month hits a little closer to District 6 as a family from Steilacoom contacted me because their teenage son took his own life last year. They want to ensure they did their part to share their story and remind other families about what signs to look for.
While I wish I could say that was only one case, sadly, we’ve had many suicides across Pierce County, and far more that ended with hospitalization or an attempt that triggered a response and immediate seeking of professional help. Depression, anxiety, and other mood-altering events can cause someone to get to a place so low that ending their life is seen as the only path forward. For many, it can be about control. Still, as we continue to invest and expand access to emergency services, telehealth, and the 9-8-8 crisis line, I genuinely believe we can reduce the number of lives lost.
In Pierce County, if you, a loved one, or a friend is in crisis, please ask for help. If someone you care for is struggling, ask for help. Sometimes it can be enough that you paused and talked to them, checked in, and provided a path to access support that ultimately saves their life. However, it can take professional help, and it can be a struggle to get that help. With that in mind, we pause each September to share reminders about where to get help, provide a time to remember those left behind, and, most importantly, remind those struggling that we care and want to help.
Resources to Assist with Overdose and Suicide
I can’t just talk about these topics and not provide some resources for you, so below is a list of links to additional local supports and learning opportunities:
- Preventing Youth SuicideTPCHD Home Injury, self-harm and suicide prevention
- Drug Overdose Signs and What To Do
- 988 Lifeline Website
- Kids Mental Health Pierce County has a variety of videos on programs and information about supporting youth and families struggling with mental health concerns.
- Pierce County’s Behavioral Health Page includes links to local resources and phone numbers to contact support systems.
- NAMI Pierce County-National Association of Mental Illness
- Veterans Crisis Line-Crisis support for veterans and their family
- Substance Use Disorder and Treatment-Recovery Navigator
- Getting Narcan & How to Administer It
There are more resources, but I want to provide some active links affiliated with Pierce County or accessed anywhere.
View the entire newsletter here.