The Arkansas Department of Health will host a Suicide Prevention Awareness Month event at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at the state Capitol rotunda, according to a news release.


Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH, the Arkansas Department of Health director and state health officer, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will discuss suicide prevention.


Laura Watlington, a licensed social worker, the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Program manager and REACH VET coordinator, will read the governor’s proclamation.


“Suicide is the leading cause of violent death in Arkansas,” according to the release. “In 2016, there were 546 suicide deaths, which is more than double the amount of homicides that year. Sixty-seven of those deaths were youth ages 10-24.”


“According to the CDC, Arkansas ranked 14th in the nation for deaths by suicide in 2016. There are a number of resources in the state to address this issue, including an in-state call center for the national suicide prevention lifeline, which was mandated by Act 811 of 2017 and opened in December 2017,” according to the release.


Last fall, Rutledge launched Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation educational tool offered free to all high school students in the state to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. To date, it has been launched in 73 schools across 55 counties and reached more than 7,700 students. An additional 17 schools plan to launch the program this fall.


Anyone interested in having Prescription for Life in their school can find more information at ArkansasAG.gov.