Suicide prevention program coming to Marquette Co.

A new suicide prevention program is coming to Marquette County.

The Marquette County Board of Commissioners approved the program at its meeting Tuesday night.

Pathways Community Mental Health will help start and run the program.  There are plans to improve aftercare and health services for those at risk, restricting access to lethal means, and conduct suicide and depression screenings.

Marquette County (12.2) and the Upper Peninsula (17.1) have suicide rates higher than the state’s average of 11.7 suicides per 100,000 people.

“It’s certainly not a perfect plan and we’ll have people tell us that and we already know that, but as time goes on the plan can be tweaked,” Commissioner Steve Pence said.  “The important thing is to get people working on it.”

“It’s a modest beginning, but I think with Sandy (McGovern’s) fine help pulling the plan together, and with John Basse from the (Marquette County) Health Department, Fred Benzie working together over the last few months, that I think it has a chance of going forward and succeeding.”

“One of the things you can’t ignore is lethal means,” Sandra McGovern, who helped develop the program said.  “Educating the public on the reduction and the securing of lethal means.  For example, gun lock distributions, education on the importance of securing (lethal means)…and we can determine more as time goes on.”

The program will cost about $93,000, but the plan was designed to have no additional cost to the county.

“Right now the employee that’s going to be committed to the program works with Pathways working part-time,” Pence said.  “Under the existing budgets there are funds we might apply for later if funding becomes an issue, but like I said in the last 60 or 90 days it became apparent in at least for the next year we won’t be asking anyone for funding.”

The plan is expected to be fully implemented by January 2015.

Other items on the agenda included: approving $180,000 to replace the phone system in the Marquette County Courthouse, Skewis Annex, and Sheriff’s Department, and renewing a pilot briefing system for Sawyer International Airport.