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A suicide prevention campaign in Campbell County is offering resources for help

Campbell County Prevention Coalition suicide prevention window cling and coaster
Campbell County Prevention Coalition

The Campbell County Prevention Council (CCPC) is a coalition of individuals and organizations from the community that work to enhance community safety and health, focusing on substance abuse and prevention for youth, adults, and families.

Since August, they’ve partnered with local businesses on a campaign to raise awareness for resources for suicide prevention.

“I thought about this for a long time and a lot of our suicides have substances in their system, whether it be alcohol or drugs, and so I wanted something that would reach that kind of population,” said Ashley McRae, certified prevention specialist with CCPC. “We started with the window clings, and we were only going to put them in liquor stores or bars. We wanted something simple that if somebody's looking at it, they won't feel weird, like a giant poster, and then the QR code just to snap [for] resources.”

McRae added that almost every business in Gillette has the stickers, which list some of the warning signs of suicide in addition to the resources provided by the suicide prevention hotline, the WYO text hotline, and the Campbell County Behavioral Health Crisis line. The stickers have even gained attention outside of the county.

“We even sent some to Casper [after] their hospital requested some,” she said. “It's grant funded through the State of Wyoming. It has to be evidence based, so putting out resources and information dissemination is the evidence base piece.”

McRae said that she brought the idea for the campaign to the suicide prevention coalition in May. It also bounced around several local government agencies, including the Gillette Police Department, the Campbell County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Family Services, the Campbell County School District, and Campbell County Public Health.

In addition to the stickers, she added that there’s another component to their campaign.

“We have coasters that are going around and they're part of the same initiative,” she explained. “We handed them out to a couple of bars, and I had just recently ordered more because now some local restaurants want them as well. On the front of them, it says, ‘No one can fill your boots and we don't want to try,’ and there's a pair of work boots. On the other side is our QR code for resources.”

Campbell County Prevention Coalition suicide prevention window cling and coaster
Campbell County Prevention Coalition

The campaign is set to continue at least through November, with a closer analysis of whether the QR code is gaining attention. McRae said it appears to be successful.

“The first week that we handed out the window cling, we looked at how often our QR code was being used and it was already scanned 200 times in the 10 businesses that we had it in,” she said. “And since that time, that number [has] continued to increase [in] the number of people who are scanning the QR code or who are calling in or taking advantage of other resources.”

She added that as of early September, there were over 1,000 scans of the code, which marked approximately three weeks since the campaign was launched. This comes as Campbell County has registered 16 suicides so far this year, which is approximately double from last year’s total.

Campbell County School District officials are continuing to emphasize mental health and suicide prevention as well, which they said has made an impact in reducing the number of youth suicides even as the county’s rate continues to climb. McRae added that she’s part of the district’s crisis response team, though their initiatives are separately funded and include more school-specific programs and messaging.

“If there's a suicide of a youth, then I kind of help them disseminate information, what is safe, but they took on a lot of the initiatives themselves, and they just kind of include me to make sure what they're saying is accurate,” she added.

CCPC received their first grant in July, which will continue through July 2024.

If you or someone you know is considering or having suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also dial 988 24/7 or text “WYO” to 741741. Local mental health and substance abuse services are also offered in communities statewide.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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