Health Education & Promotion

Suicide Prevention

What is Mental Health and how does it relate to Suicide Prevention?

  • Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” It is estimated that only about 17% of U.S adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. There is emerging evidence that positive mental health is associated with improved health outcomes.
  • Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, trailing only ischemic heart disease. Ninety percent of those lost to suicide have an underlying mental illness; these lives can be saved.

Why is this a focus of the Kent County Health Department (KCHD)?

  • Suicide is a major public health concern. Over 40,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.
  • 50% of all mental health illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • Suicide in Kent County is the second leading cause of death in children ages 15 to 24.
  • Early childhood years are the most important time to prevent mental health illnesses and promote healthy behavior. Some kids experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, and pressure to succeed at home and at school. Some kids feel left out and are targeted and bullied, or are the bullies themselves. They may develop depression and contemplate suicide or turn to harmful substances and engage in other types of risk-taking behaviors as the solution to their problems.
  • Evidence has shown that mental disorders, especially depressive disorders, are strongly related to the occurrence, successful treatment, and course of many chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and obesity and many risk behaviors for chronic disease; such as, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, and insufficient sleep.
Michigan Adolescent Mental Health Facts

How is KCHD Addressing this issue?

QPR Training

Kent County Health Department is working to help prevent suicide in our communities by offering QPR trainings for school personnel. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Key Components Covered In Training:

  • How to Question, Persuade and Refer someone who may be suicidal
  • How to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide o The common causes of suicidal behavior
  • The warning signs of suicide
  • How to get help for someone in crisis

We are able to work with schools to provide the training on site or we can offer it at the health department. The training typically lasts 1-1.5 hours depending on discussion and questions.

For more information about QPR Trainings, contact:

Lauren Czarnowczan | | (616) 632-7217
Tracy Fahner | | (616) 632-7271

Live, Laugh, Love: Educating Youth About Mental Health

live love laugh logoThe health department also partners with the Mental Health Foundation to provide suicide prevention education through the Live, Laugh, Love curriculum. The health department and Health Education and Promotion staff support the Mental Health Foundations efforts to decrease suicides and increase mental health awareness in Kent County. For more information or to connect directly with MHF visit: or call 616-389-8601

Live Laugh Love is an interactive 4-class series that uses multimedia as a tool to help students, parents, and teachers recognize the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide in themselves, a friend or family member. The curriculum is also designed to help young people who may be personally affected by mental illness to get past the stigma and seek treatment.

Live Laugh Love lesson plan includes:

  • Intro to mental health
  • Stigma
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Warning signs of suicide
  • Risk and protective factors
  • be nice. Action Plan - notice, invite, challenge, empower

For questions, please contact:
Tracy Fahner | | (616) 632-7271

suicide prevention lifeline
suicide prevention