Hospital's 'Team Zero' has a target

8/30/2017

ROCK SPRINGS – A better awareness of others’ words and actions as a way to prevent suicide is the target of the hospital’s “Team Zero.”

Four health care workers from Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, along with four people from Southwest Counseling Service, attended a training session this spring sponsored by the Wyoming Department of Health, with support from the Prevention Management Organization in Casper.

James Cummings, who recently was promoted to MHSC social services supervisor, attended the conference with Sarah Roth, recently promoted to Infection Prevention and Employee Health director; Melissa Anderson, recently promoted to Acute Care Services director; and Crystal Hamblin, Cardiopulmonary Services director, all with MHSC.

“Together, we have named our team ‘Team Zero,’” Cummings said.

The moniker refers to a target goal for the number of suicides that are charted in Sweetwater County and statewide. The group is in the planning stages of a series of in-house efforts and strategies to do just that – reduce and eliminate suicides.

“The intention is to see everyone at the hospital trained to screen for suicidal thinking,” Cummings said. “Whether it’s a doctor or a member of housekeeping, everyone has a role to play.”

“This is tough stuff to talk about,” Cummings said, adding that it’s a topic that must be addressed in order to save lives.

Why is it important? Consider what the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has compiled from the most recent data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here is what they’ve gleaned:

• On average, one person dies by suicide every two days in Wyoming.

• Wyoming ranks No. 1 nationwide for the highest number of deaths by suicide per capita. In 2015, there were 157 deaths by suicide, or 28.24 per 100,000 population.

• Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death in Wyoming (based on 2015 data). Broken down by age, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-44; fifth leading cause of death, ages 45-54; eighth leading cause of death for ages 55-64; and 14th leading cause of death for ages 65 and older.

• Nine times as many people die by suicide in Wyoming annually as by homicide. The total deaths to suicide reflect a total of 3,551 years of potential life lost before age 65.

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