United Way Spotlight: Suicide Prevention

Story provided by United Way

This article is the first in a series highlighting the 22 nonprofit partner agencies supported by the United Way of Payne County. The United Way is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in Payne County by investing donated dollars in nonprofits that focus on promoting education, improving health and reducing poverty.

This article’s spotlight is Payne County Youth Services (PCYS).

According to the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading causing of premature death for people between 14 and 34 years old. Oklahoma ranks sixteenth worst in the nation for deaths by suicide.

Payne County Youth Services aims to combat these statistics with their Building a Competent Community for Suicide Prevention training program.

The program is open to the community. It began in October of 2018 from a need to respond to completed and attempted suicides in local schools, and the everyday work of PCYS programs.

“The statistics are horrible, but suicide is the most preventable cause of premature death,” Janet Fultz, PCYS Executive Director, said. “Suicide often being preventable means there is hope for better outcomes, space for awareness and that this program can truly make a positive difference.”

The program teaches the skills to empower individuals on how to identify those at risk for suicide, how to intervene and how to get help. PCYS offers the program as a free training that usually lasts about an hour.

PCYS has provided this evidence-based training to thousands, including staff and teachers at Stillwater, Cushing, Perkins-Tryon, Yale, Ripley and Glencoe public schools. PCYS also has staff that visit all of these schools once a week to provide counseling services.

“Everyone can benefit from suicide prevention training,” Fultz said. “The more people trained, the more suicides will be reduced and lives saved. We encourage community members to be a part of this vital training.”

Fultz said that we can all play a part in preventing suicide.

“Research shows that the smallest connection can interrupt the process of suicidal thoughts and keep someone from acting on it,” she said. “Sharing a smile, a kind word, or giving grace to someone we don’t even know, can have a positive impact. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. Research indicates that we do not ‘plant’ the idea in someone’s mind, and that acknowledging we see their pain can actually be affirming and protective.”

Individuals or businesses interested in suicide prevention training, or those in need of services, can contact PCYS at 405-377-3380. PCYS also operates a 24/7 crisis line guaranteeing immediate access to services and help. The crisis line is 405-377-1452. Information is also available at www.pcys.org or on social media.  

Founded in 1972, PCYS celebrated 50 years of service on June 9, 2022 at the Stillwater Community Center at 315 W 8th Ave, Stillwater. All are invited to attend for a come-and-go reception.

PCYS offers mental health and substance use treatment, an emergency youth shelter, transitional living, crisis services and much more at no cost. Their programming is designed to assist children, youth, young adults, and families to improve their overall quality of life.

When you donate to United Way of Payne County, you support the amazing work of PCYS and 21 other nonprofits, which collectively help more than 21,000 individuals and families each year. The United Way has served the community for more than 70 years. To learn more or donate visit www.unitedwaypaynecounty.org or call 405-377-2161.