Department of Health Is Proactive About Suicide Prevention

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion (Government House photo)

The Virgin Islands Department of Health, under the leadership of Commissioner Justa Encarnacion — in collaboration with The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists — will be conducting the first territorial Suicide Prevention Training. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has awarded the project a Technical Assistance for Response to Public Health or Health Care Crisis Grant.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the CDC is pleased to have Sharifa J. Charles, a native Virgin Islander and professional development specialist currently with The Center for School Behavioral Health, Mental Health America of Greater Houston as the trainer for this event.

The training will be held on St. Croix on Nov. 4 and 5, in Government House and in the St. Thomas-St. John District on Nov. 7 and 8, at the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority. First responders will be trained to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis, the steps they can take to help intervene and prevent suicide, and techniques to help the healing process after a suicide. Attendees will learn from mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors using a culturally sensitive approach when speaking about suicide, suicide assessments, intervention techniques and prevention practices.

Sharifa J. Charles, professional development specialist currently with The Center for School Behavioral Health

The latest epidemiological data from CDC and DOH shows that there is an increase in suicides in the territory and the nation. Vernita Bicette, director of Behavioral Health Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Services at the Department of Health, said, “We are taking a pro-active approach in the territory to this national crisis by implementing preventative measures which include this suicide prevention training.”

The Department of Health will continue its suicide prevention initiatives with future educational training and outreach activities.

For more information, contact Irving Julien, Territorial Suicide Prevention and Programs coordinator at the Department of Health CDC Office at 718-1311.

Original Source: