Countywide suicide prevention initiative to spread awareness and to save lives

by Carol Leish

During September’s National Suicide Prevention Month, Vista del Mar Hospital is presenting a countywide initiative to provide awareness and to ultimately save lives.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In California 4,491 died by suicide in 2018, including 94 people in Ventura County alone. This reflects a total of 84,137 years of potential life lost before age 65. On a national level, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.

“The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have been far-reaching and fatal. In addition to the physical health concerns, there are emotional, mental, and behavioral health stains,” according to, Jenifer Nyhuis, Vista del Mar’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are constantly reminded of these challenges, such as: job loss; increased depression related to isolation; increased anxiety due to uncertainty and fear; economic challenges; food insecurity; child care needs; and, social challenges. We are also aware of the decrease in common coping outlets for social gatherings (gyms; churches; temples; spas; and, parks).” She continued by saying, “I am confident that nearly every person’s mental health has been brought into question, if only momentarily. The pandemic has only further exacerbated the suicide crisis. Thus, this is a time to come together to collaborate as a community in order to create lasting change.”

Therefore, Vista del Mar Hospital is collaborating with the Jason Foundation and community partners to provide free suicide prevention training online via Zoom. The one-hour training includes facts and figures about this silent epidemic, compelling survey results, warning signs such as out-of-character behavior, risk factors for suicidal ideation, resources, and the social media campaign: #1WONTBESILENT. Community partners include: The City of Ventura; Coalition for Family Harmony; NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), Ventura County; Mission FISH; Genesis Programs, Inc.; News Talk 1590 KVTA; QPR For Suicide Prevention; Ventura Downtown Lion’s Club; Ventura County Behavioral Health; Ventura County CIT; and, Women of the Moose. Vista del Mar has three scheduled trainings open to the public, as well as trainings by appointment.

“During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, suicide prevention is more important than ever,” according to, Kiran Sahot, Sr. Behavioral Health Manager with Ventura County Behavior Health. “We encourage the community to become trained in asking the difficult questions surrounding thoughts of suicide, and being able to recognize the signs of anxiety and depression.”

Resources on a list that is provided by Vista del Mar include resources in the areas of: crisis stabilization; outpatient services; chemical dependence; veteran services; LGBTQ+ services and support; and, other education and support. With help/support, situations can and will improve.

If in a dire situation, please call either: the Ventura County Crisis Intervention Unit at: 856-998-223; or, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 800-273-8255.

To find more available resources and/or information from Vista del Mar, go to their website at: “Realize that you’re not alone,” according to, Maya Lazos, community liaison at Vista del Mar. “There is help and there are free resources out there.” For questions or to schedule a training by appointment, contact Lazos at: (805) 794-1009; or,

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