Suicide prevention webinar planned Friday for Harford health professionals

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health will host a webinar about suicide prevention in Harford County on Friday, March 21, presented in partnership with the Harford County Department of Community Services and Harford County Health Department.

The webinar will provide primary care and mental health providers in Harford County with the skills and resources needed to employ more effective intervention strategies for purposes of moving the county's behavioral health initiative forward and lowering suicide rates, according to the sponsors.

Physicians and other behavioral health professionals interested in more information about this initiative and the webinar should contact Molly Mraz, 410-612-1781.

Harford has the fifth highest suicide rate in Maryland, according to the county's health department.

The county's suicide rate was targeted in 2011 when the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched an initiative to improve the health of all citizens through the State Health Improvement Plan, according to a health department news release.

Harford County formed a Local Health Improvement Coalition, or LHIC, to identify three top health priority areas in the county including: obesity prevention/ healthy eating and active living; tobacco-free living; and behavioral health, the latter which consists of mental health care and substance abuse prevention. Organizers formed workgroups based on these three top health priorities.

The Behavioral Health Workgroup developed an overall objective for strategies, defined as "a focused approach to include prevention, intervention and recovery." One of the primary goals of this objective is to use primary care/urgent care physicians as a first line of intervention in dealing with cases of depression where suicide screening is indicated.

The workgroup anticipates approaching this goal by providing this free webinar, as well as through ongoing outreach and support to the health care providers, the health department stated in a news release. Funding is provided by Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

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