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Office of Mental Health receives $1.4 million grant for suicide prevention services in Western New York

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Fri, Sep 11th 2015 10:20 am

Partnering with health care providers in Erie and Monroe counties to reduce suicide

The New York State Office of Mental Health announced Thursday it received a $1.41 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to reduce suicide in Western New York.

Although Erie County and Monroe County have suicide rates below the national average, and New York's rate is among the lowest in the U.S., the suicide rate among individuals currently receiving mental health services in Western New York is among the highest in the state. Additionally, Western New York had the highest rate of suicide attempts for individuals receiving mental health services within all regions of New York.

"This grant will help New York state expand the suicide prevention resources available to health care professionals who are on the front lines in the fight against suicide," said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Ann Marie T. Sullivan, M.D. "On World Suicide Prevention Day, and every day, it is important for New Yorkers to realize that everyone plays a role in suicide prevention and that, together, we can reach out and save lives."

New York, one of four states to receive a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention grant, aims to create a 10 percent reduction of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide in Erie and Monroe counties. This grant funds a pilot project that trains and supports local health care providers in the delivery of the highest standard of care for suicidal individuals, by targeting high-risk individuals for intervention during critical times. Lessons learned from this pilot project will inform expansion of these programs across New York.

"New York state, through its Office of Mental Health, is one of the nation's leaders in applying and supporting a systematic approach to suicide prevention in behavioral health systems," said Eric D. Caine, M.D., John Romano Professor, chair of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the URMC Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. "We are very pleased that the Medical Center and Strong Memorial Hospital have the opportunity to be an active collaborator in this initiative. It is most important, every day, to work together to save lives."

Under this grant, the Office of Mental Health is training medical and mental health providers to integrate suicide prevention strategies into their daily routines, such as: creating an organizational culture committed to reducing suicides, making sure all patients are routinely screened for suicide risk, and training their staff in effective interventions for suicidal individuals. Providers also receive training in usage of "safety plans," a prioritized list of supports and coping strategies to be used when suicidal urges arise. Trained staff telephone patients soon after they leave the hospital, reviewing the safety plan and providing brief support. The combination of the safety plan and follow-up calls has shown promising results in reducing suicidal behavior.

"The New York State Office of Mental Health consistently leads the country in support of effective suicide prevention programming," said Richard C. Cleland, MPA, FACHE, NHA, CEO, Erie County Medical Center Corp. "As the Regional Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, operating the largest acute-care psychiatric program in the area for adolescents, adults and seniors, and one of the largest comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs in New York state, we are grateful for the support from the New York State Office of Mental Health through funding from SAMHSA. We anticipate a marked improvement through this strategic initiative."

OMH's suicide prevention office also funds a number of programs for New Yorkers as part of its Suicide Prevention Initiative, including free trainings for clinicians in safety planning and follow-up calls provided by the Center for Practice Innovations and trainings for non-clinicians at the Suicide Prevention Center of New York. Information on upcoming trainings is available here: http://www.preventsuicideny.org/.

New York is a part of the Statewide and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, giving individuals at-risk someone to talk to, 24 hours a day/seven days a week at:

For a listing of suicide crisis phone lines by in New York state by county, visit: http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/speak/speakcrisisnumbers.asp.

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