Lake Oswego adds police officer to prevent self-harm
Since September, Lake Oswego Police Officer Dawn Pecoraro has been transitioning into a new role — one that she and the department hope will help curb the unusually high number of deaths by suicide and suicide attempts that take place in Lake Oswego.
A 15-year veteran of the LOPD, Pecoraro's new role as the Adult Resource Officer is the first of its kind in Oregon. It allows her to operate more casually than the typical police officer, with the goal of filling in the gaps and connecting resources to the people in Lake Oswego who need them most.
"I'm not a mental health professional, but I have a different lens through which I operate, so I try and take a look at the family dynamic and assess whether they'd benefit from a follow-up call," Pecoraro says. "It may not be the people we think. It could be the spouse, the adult children, whoever is most appropriate."
The position was suggested by LOPD Lt. Clayton Simon and received widespread approval within the department.
Pecoraro says her role is constantly evolving, but she's identified four areas of focus in which she believes she can make an impact and improve the lives of Lake Oswegans. Those include elderly adult services, behavioral health, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death across the nation, but in Oregon — and particularly in Clackamas County— mental health services and law enforcement are seeing a disproportionate number of cases.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon's suicide rate of 17.7 per 100,000 residents is 33 percent higher than the national average. Clackamas County has the highest suicide rate in the metro region at 15.6 per 100,000 residents. There are more than 650 suicides in Oregon each year and more than 2,100 hospitalizations due to suicide attempts.
As a Clackamas County community, Lake Oswego disproportionately adds to that rate. In October, there were four deaths by suicide in Lake Oswego, according to the LOPD. Between January and the end of October 2018, there were 24 suicide attempts.
Click here to read the rest of the story in the Lake Oswego Review.
These organizations are here to help or provide more information on how you can help others:
Clackamas County Crisis Line: 503-655-8585 (provides 24/7 free and confidential support)
Clackamas County Urgent Mental Health walk-in center: 11211 S.E. 82nd Ave., Suite O, Happy Valley (open 7 days a week)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Lines for Life: http://www.Linesforlife.org
Vibrant Emotional Health: http://www.Vibrant.org
Suicide Awareness Voices in Education: http://www.Save.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.Afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://www.Sprc.org
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://www.Samhsa.gov
National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://www.Nami.org