Eighteen months into its existence and with some successes under its belt, the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Washington County is looking to regroup and expand going into 2013.
The volunteer group was formed to teach area residents about the warning signs of suicide, connect people in need with resources and provide help to the friends and family left behind after a suicide.
But while a number of people have been trained in what to watch for and a monthly survivors support group has been established, the number of active members has decreased from more than 20 to about 10.
"This is a coalition where people can't immediately or even long-term see the fruits of their labor," said Miriam Keith, consumer support coordinator at the Washington County Behavioral Health Board and a member of the coalition board.
Coalition board President LeeAnn Price recently sent out a letter inviting various stakeholders to attend the group's Nov. 15 meeting at 4 p.m. at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Marietta.
"We need new, current and old participants to come together and share in the good work we are doing," she wrote. "We have achieved much in the first year-and-a-half, but it has become apparent that we need to regroup and prepare for the upcoming year."
If you go
What: Suicide Prevention Coalition of Washington County meeting.
When: 4 p.m. Nov. 15.
Where: St. Luke's Lutheran Church, 401 Scammel St., Marietta.
Who: Open to anyone.
In an interview, Price said current board members include a pastor, someone from the Veterans Administration and representatives of Marietta College and Washington State Community College. She would also like to see local hospitals and law enforcement involved. Price said the coalition could help make police officers aware of resources available to assist individuals who threaten suicide and offer training in dealing with families of people who die in that manner.
"I was just at a (training) class with a police officer from a different county, and he said, 'I've never had any training on this,'" she said.
Price said she hopes the meeting will result in better focus for goals for the upcoming year. One that is important to her is connecting with local schools so coalition members could provide training to teachers or even address students directly in health classes.
"A lot of times parents don't even know their children are in danger, but their classmates do," Price said.
While the coalition is specifically looking for people from the first responder and health care fields and individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide, the meeting is open to anyone interested in participating.
"We need members of the general public," Keith said. "It's not going to work if we don't have people with their finger on the pulse of the community."
Another topic at the meeting would be the timing of the meetings themselves, currently held at 4 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Price said she'd like to see if that time works or if a change would allow more people to participate.
The survivor support group meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 320 Second St., Marietta.