2007: An alarming increase in suicide related deaths occurred in Tulare County. Officials from public and private organizations met as a collegium to address the issue of suicide and open dialogue relating to awareness and prevention. Participants attempted to affect change, but a lack of supportive funding made progress difficult.
2008 to early 2009: Tulare County Health & Human Service Agency's Mental Health Branch began extensive outreach to communicate with residents across Tulare County regarding the community's concerns and priorities relating to mental health needs within our county. These efforts were a direct result of Proposition 63 (also known as the Mental Health Services Act or MHSA) passed by voters in 2004.
Early to mid-2009: The Mental Health Branch continued the process of interacting with the community regarding needs specific to Tulare County. These efforts lead to the creation and adoption of the Tulare County Mental Health Services Act: Prevention and Early Intervention Plan. One of the primary components of the plan was the provision of services to increase suicide prevention.
Late 2009: The Tulare County Suicide Prevention Task Force (SPTF) solidified plans to meet as a group with broad representation to advance the cause of suicide prevention, establish best practice services, and increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of suicide risk. The SPTF launched awareness activities during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week (Sept. 6-10) by hosting a Suicide Prevention Awareness Candle Light Vigil and Awareness Walk as well as bringing in a nationally recognized documentary, The Shaken Tree, free to the community at the Visalia Fox Theatre. In addition, the SPTF is currently establishing two suicide prevention pilot projects for early screening and referral of individuals to services to decrease suicide risk.
2010 - forward: The Tulare County Suicide Prevention Task Force has the intention of increasing prevention and early intervention services, our community's knowledge of the signs and symptoms of suicide risk, and continue to provide a forum where the issue of suicide can be addressed within our county.