USC-VHH Hosts Suicide Awareness Conference


On Sept. 9, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital (VHH) will present its Eighth Annual Suicide Awareness and Prevention Conference. The event is co-hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The in-person venue will be held at USC-VHH; it will also be presented as a webinar. The registration deadline for attending in-person is tomorrow, Sept. 1. The deadline to register for the webinar is Sept. 8 (links on how to register can be found at the end of this article).

The event is sponsored by Horizon Healthcare, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and USC-VHH Foundation Caduceus Society.

The hope is that those in attendance will gain a better understanding of mental health challenges.

“The signs, risk factors, causes and impact of suicide [will be discussed as will] the available mental health resources and crisis helplines and the importance of mental health and suicide prevention,” said Marie Filipian, MPH, Community Benefit manager with USC-VHH, in an email response.

In 2020, according to the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH), 25 to 44 year old individuals had the highest rate of death by suicide followed by those 45 to 64 years old.

However, the provisional data for 2022 by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control indicate a record high of 49,369 suicide deaths. This data also shows that in 2022 there was the highest number on record of gun-related deaths.

“We believe the hospital’s service area is likely fairly consistent with the County as a whole when it comes to suicide rates,” Filipian said.

According to LA County Public Health Dept., in 2020 death by suicide was the eighth leading cause of premature death among LA County residents; it is the third leading cause of youth death. Also, 33% of suicide deaths involved a firearm.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, although most data concerning death by suicide rates are from 2020, there are signs from preliminary data that suicide rates rose during the pandemic.

According to researchers for the Centers for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, youth suicides increased during COVID-19 with

significantly more suicides than expected among males, non-Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native youth, and non-Hispanic Black youth.  

According to the World Population Review, California is ranked 45th out of 50 states in suicide rates. Suicide rates during the pandemic were also higher than expected among non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander females, non-Hispanic White males aged 5-12 years, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native males and non-Hispanic Black males aged 18-24 years. 

This issue does not just fall on the shoulders of medical providers but also on the shoulders of the general public at large, as well as healthcare students.

“Community members and mental/behavioral healthcare professionals generally make up the audience. Continuing education credits are offered to healthcare professionals,” Filipian added.

Attendance to the USC-VHH event is free. To register for in-person attendance, visit To register for the webinar, visit