25. January 2024 · Comments Off on Ag and Rural Caucus for February, 2024 · Categories: Committee News, Recent Events

Ag and Rural Caucus for February

A potpourri Thursday, or a mishmash of news and views. A little State Convention, a little CD 5, and a little of whatever you bring to the table.
February Schedule
Better Practices
6:30 pm Thursday 1 February

Policy Briefing
6:30 pm Thursday 15 February

Suicide in Rural Washington

Cassidy Brewin
Suicide Prevention Specialist
Walla Walla County Community Health


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Overexplained? So what?
Is suicide overexplained? By this, I mean do we load all of society’s ills into explaining suicide. Do we have any real explanation at all?  The “despair” in the “deaths of despair” certainly captures our imagination of probable causes…economy, social breakdown, substance abuse, racism, gender role upheavals, genetic determinism, and so on.

The tragedy of suicide can get lost in our convergence on whatever social theory is in fashion. Suicide usually comes with few warning signs. It is distressingly democratic. Young people, old folks, brown, black, red and white, men and women, suicide does not discriminate. It marks families for generations. Hopes are dashed. Guilt explodes.

Or so we say, because we can say a lot and it can sound plausible. So, let’s push the data as far as we can before jumping to conclusions. Let’s measure what we can measure before we turn to speculation.

Let’s also try to identify in the data anything distinctive about suicide in our rural communities. Is there something in the frequency, rates, demographics, use of firearms in rural suicide?

We should also talk about what we can do to reduce suicide rates without fully knowing why people take their lives. We know that engagement helps, I think, and that limiting access to guns and drugs helps. Or am I just projecting my social agenda?

Join Cassidy Brewin in conversation Thursday to learn about suicide in rural Washington. Cassidy will start us with the facts and we undoubtedly will move to well-meaning speculation.

12 February 2024
Deaths of Despair – Suicide in Rural Washington?
What are “deaths of despair”?  Drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

And “despair”? By definition, mental health is the proximate cause. Behind the mental health, though, lies real economic decline, relative loss of economic position, and perceived loss of  economic status.

Despair sounds too much like white, male Americans chewed up by American capitalism….a big helping of unemployment and economic stress topped off by a bit of racism and gender anxiety.

So what about suicide in rural Washington? Rural Washington has the objective conditions for despair.* We have low educational attainment, high unemployment, low economic earnings, and poor physical health. These objective conditions only go so far. It is the perception that you are not doing well when others, and other groups, are doing better. It is the perception that for the first time you cannot imagine your children doing better than you or certainly their grandparents. It is the perception that there is no way out and that others are winning while you are losing.

On the 15th we are going to talk about suicide in rural Washington with Cassidy Brewin, the suicide prevention specialist with Community Health in Walla Walla. She will give us numbers, ideas behind the numbers, and ways to help.

Spoiler alert – MAGA knows all about despair. Maybe Cassidy will find in the numbers that rural Washington enjoys community “social capital” that muffles the translation of poverty into despair. Stay tuned.

*Go to this website for an interactive map of social conditions in Washington by census zone.

24 January 2024

Our Better Practices roundtable is on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm.. Use the link above for 2024.

Our Policy Series is on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm. Use the link above for 2024

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Ag and Rural Caucus of State Democratic Central Committee
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Ag and Rural Caucus
2921 Mud Creek Rd
Waitsburg, WA 99361