ITHACA, N.Y. – Next week will mark the first meeting for a newly developed suicide prevention coalition in Tompkins County, a collaborative effort which aims to curb suicide rates in the region through community outreach.

The Tompkins Suicide Prevention Coalition is a collaborative effort of several community foundations and resource centers, including the NYS Office of Mental Health, Tompkins County Mental Health Services, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services, Care Compass Network, and The Sophie Fund.

The coalition was primarily inspired by the NYS Prevention Strategy and The Sophie Fund – a donor-based foundation in Tompkins County which was founded in 2016 to enhance mental health initiatives for Ithaca youth.

According to Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services of Tompkins County, it was reported that 42,773 Americans died by suicide in 2014. On average, that number amounted to approximately 117 suicide deaths per day. Estimates conclude that 11 people die by suicide each year in Tompkins County.

Upon the discovery of this statistic, members of Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services of Tompkins County decided the need for collaboration facing the issue of suicide and mental health in the area was necessary.

Stakeholders in the coalition will gather for a full-day developmental meeting on Monday, July 31. Garra Lloyd-Lester, Associate Director of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York at the NYS Office of Mental Health will be in attendance and is scheduled to offer strategic planning guidance to the parties present.

“I am honored and excited to be working with key stakeholders throughout Tompkins County to coalesce local efforts toward building suicide-safer communities through coalition work,” Lloyd-Lester stated in a press release from Tompkins County Mental Health Services. Together we can and we must continue to work in a coordinated and comprehensive manner to help reduce the burden of suicide.”

While key stakeholders in the coalition have already received invitations to the first meeting, there may be more available space for people to participate, according to members of Tompkins County Mental Health Services. Parties who are interested in joining or participating in the coalition or seeking more information are asked to contact, or call 607-274-6304 by Friday, July 28.

Alyvia is a Crime Reporter with The Ithaca Voice. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Journalism and Photography.