Editorial Summary: Kentucky


Frankfurt State Journal. July 19, 2022.

Editorial: The new 988 lifebuoy has the potential to save lives

Every day, an average of 130 Americans die by suicide. That equates to about 45,979 U.S. residents who committed suicide in 2020 — a rate of 13.48 per 100,000 population, according to the latest available statistics from the U.S. Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

However, rarely discussed data indicates that approximately 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide in 2020.

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Suicide is preventable if people have the right tools to help, which is why Saturday’s launch of a new suicide and mental health lifeline – 988 – is so important. The new hotline, accessible by phone, text or online chat (via www.988.ky.gov), was developed with a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and $19.6 million from the state. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program will replace the National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s 800 number and provide a variety of services to help those experiencing a mental health crisis here in Kentucky and across the country.

“It’s not just a number; it is a health system. We want to reduce stigma and increase access,” said Marcie Timmerman, executive director of Mental Health America–Kentucky, at a press conference on Capitol Hill to launch the issue Monday.

Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death in Kentucky with a rate of 17.74 per 100,000 population. In 2020, 801 Kentuckians committed suicide.

“One of the things that defines us as Kentuckians is how we respond when people are in need, in their deepest and darkest times,” Governor Andy Beshear added.

Health care is a “basic human right,” the governor said, and that belief “demands that we treat mental health the same way we treat physical health.”

Although 988 is a national helpline, calls are routed locally and mental health advocates hope that by making it easier to access help at just three numbers, it will increase the effectiveness of the intervention for those who need help.

Counselors can connect Kentucky callers to other mental health and addictions services, providing a “strong safety net” in communities.

Those who are going through a mental health crisis need to know that not being well is normal. If you or someone you know is having difficulty, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If we can make 988 work like 911, many lives will be saved.

Bowling Green Daily News. July 17, 2022.

Editorial: Holistic approach needed on health issues

Kentucky has long had some of the most serious health issues for its residents among the 50 states.

Some recent news has quantified the situation with stark numbers.

The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy’s 2021 Overdose Death Report, which was released in June, said there were 2,250 overdose deaths in the state last year, up from 1,964 in 2020. and 1,316 in 2019.

Overdose deaths in Warren County have also increased over this period – from 21 in 2019 to 25 in 2020 and up to 36 last year.

Warren County had the ninth-highest number of fatal overdoses among any county in Kentucky in 2021.

The report found an increase in fentanyl and similar substances in the drug supply, and disruptions to regular daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the most important factors driving these increases.

Similarly, the Barren River Initiative to Get Healthy Together (BRIGHT) coalition recently completed a three-year community health assessment.

It showed the prevalence of a variety of health-related issues, such as:

• More than 25% of adults in south-central Kentucky were smokers – double the national rate.

• In 2019, low-income people with low access to healthy food represented 12.6% of the region’s population.

• Chronic diseases are rampant in south central Kentucky. For example, 12.6% of the region’s population has diabetes compared to 8.2% nationally.

The sobering statistics continue.

These health problems have an impact on the whole community, whether they are visible or not.

A massive pothole, tornado-ravaged neighborhoods, or crumbling sidewalks are examples of issues that need obvious attention. These health issues are not as obvious, but still have an impact on the whole community. The cost of these health problems is borne by all.

Fortunately, the BRIGHT Coalition is taking action on these issues. It is planning and implementing strategies to deal with it over the next three years.

The efforts of the BRIGHT Coalition, made up of more than 40 stakeholders, are commendable, but they are not enough on their own.

A 2008 study by the US Institute of Medicine found that the best approach to tackling these issues is through comprehensive efforts.

“The best of these approaches have the virtue of empowering and mobilizing community resources and residents, but at the same time implementing systematic, sustainable and clinically sound approaches to health behavior, screening, prevention and promotion and treatment,” according to the study. .

In short, it will take a comprehensive effort involving both the private and public sectors to bring about much-needed improvements.

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