Somerville Committee for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health
All young people in Somerville feel safe and cared for and have a caring adult to reach out to when in trouble in and out of school. Caregivers including parents, teachers, and coaches have supports and people they turn to when they are stressed out and overwhelmed. A sense of calm, togetherness and vigilance to stop any suicidal behaviors and overdoses is evident throughout the whole community. Suicide and drug overdose attempts and completions are reduced and we observe increase in youth coming forward seeking help.
The Mayor's Suicide and Mental Health Taskforce was convened in March 2004 to recommend and implement strategies to prevent youth suicide and to promote the emotional well being of Somerville youth through youth development, support services, education, community building, and data surveillance.
We recognize that the Mayor's Suicide and Mental Health Taskforce is one group among many who care and are actively working to promote the well being of young people in Somerville. Here is who is doing what already in each of these domains:
Youth Development Activities
The Somerville Youth Workers Network, Teen Empowerment/Youth Program, and SCAP youth activities are developing and implementing youth development activities. Many other youth programs are also active including BGCMC, YMCA, Mystic Learning, MAPS, and Haitian Coalition etc.
The Somerville Youth Trauma Response Network has been created to offer a structured response when the devastating crisis of a youth suicide, homicide or overdose occurs. The network offers support and solace to youth in the circle of friends of decedents so that they can get through the rituals of wakes and funerals, and provides coping groups post the tragedies for high-risk youth.
The Mayor's Opiate Taskforce has conducted focus groups with youth, convened a community forum dealing with opiate related issues and planned vigils for the victims of drug overdoses, suicide and all youth losses in Somerville
Community Building & Data Surveillance
The Health Agenda Director serves as the conduit and liaison between the various coalitions and groups working on promoting emotional well-being of youth in Somerville.
Underlying Themes and Principles Guiding the Work
We can all help to promote the well-being of young people. We strive to create a community-wide response that keeps the hope of young people alive, while offering them lots of ways to grow and learn about life. The effort needs to be flexible enough to make use of a wide range of resources while being organized enough to keep them all connected and working together.
Planning Group and Staffing
The taskforce is part of the Somerville Cares about Prevention coalition. Taskforce Chair Karen Hacker reports to the Director of the Health Department who reports to the Mayor. A planning group composed of providers, clergy, police schools and residents has been convened to provide planning and accountability services to the Mayor and community members concerned about youth suicide and mental health promotion. These people are:
- Patty Contente, Somerville Office of Prevention (SOP)/Somerville Health Department
- Nancy Bacci, City of Somerville
- Cory Mashburn, Somerville Office of Prevention (SOP)/Somerville Health Department
- Lisa Brukilacchio, Somerville Health Agenda
- Alice Comach, Somerville High School
- Tim O'Keefe, Somerville Public Schools
- Regina Bertholdo, Parent Information Center
The purpose of this planning group is to keep the taskforce moving forward and to launch subcommittees to do the work.