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Cuomo announces digital campaign to raise awareness on suicide prevention in New York

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Fri, Sep 11th 2020 02:35 pm

Reaffirms state's commitment in fight against suicide, especially for vulnerable and at-risk communities during COVID-19

Proclamation declares September Suicide Prevention Month in NYS  

Emotional support helpline: 1-844-863-9314

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced a new digital campaign to raise awareness and to inform all New Yorkers of the suicide prevention resources available across the state. He also issued a proclamation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Month and Sept. 10 as Suicide Prevention Day in New York.

"Increasing awareness of the suicide prevention resources available is critically important to addressing and lowering the suicide rate and helping more New Yorkers to get the help they need – something that's even more important amid this pandemic," Cuomo said. "New York state will continue to train thousands of people to recognize the warning signs of suicide and implement new and innovative programs to help strengthen our prevention efforts."

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Every suicide is a tragedy that takes an enormous toll on families, friends and communities across the state. OMH is committed to expanding our suicide prevention efforts and providing hope, especially for those who are most vulnerable and at-risk. We are implementing new and innovative programs and best practices that are making a difference. Our goal is to ensure that every New Yorker has access to the resources and mental health services they need to lead productive healthy lives."

New York has one of the lowest rates of suicide in the nation. However, the state loses approximately 1,700 New Yorkers to suicide each year. The Office of Mental Health's Suicide Prevention Center of New York (SPC-NY) tracks these trends to expand the state's prevention programming and reach as many people as possible.

‘NY Cares’ Campaign

To promote the importance of suicide prevention efforts, OMH and SPC-NY are launching the “NY Cares” campaign. A series of public service announcements and social media graphics will share important facts about suicide, including the importance and success of getting help. The PSAs will target two main audiences with specific goals:

•“NY Cares Together”: (https://youtu.be/syPOb6sdcv4): This campaign reminds New Yorkers that thoughts of suicide are more common than they think, but there are steps everyone can take to help people who are struggling.

•“NY Cares about Preventing Suicide”: (https://youtu.be/6jnbcaIwntY): This campaign seeks to normalize help-seeking behavior and points to the fact that up to 90% of people who get help for depression get better.

The Office of Mental Health will also run a series of informative graphics to help New Yorkers learn more about the impact of suicide, warning signs and how to create a suicide safe environment at home. A streaming digital radio ad will highlight the prevalence of suicidal thoughts. There is also a “NY Cares” website with resources for yourself, others, suicide attempt survivors and loss survivors.

New York has a history of innovation in suicide prevention, including Cuomo's establishment of the New York state suicide prevention task force in November 2017. The task force focused on how to best serve high-risk groups, including Black and Latina youth, members of the LGBTQ community, veterans and residents of rural regions of the state. The work of the task force led to the development of new initiatives to help these groups and to reach and engage with Black and Latina youth in a culturally competent manner.

Other notable programs include:

A first-in-the-nation pilot program called ASSIP, the attempted suicide short intervention program. This promising intervention uses the individual's own story to develop a plan for safety and to help establish coping skills for the future. One study shows ASSIP reduces new suicide attempts by previous attempt-survivors by 80%.

The suicide fatality review (SFR) grant project has begun in four counties (Erie, Onondaga, Suffolk and Westchester). The reviews recommend interventions, such as training staff at animal shelters after research highlighted how often people surrender pets when planning suicide.

New York is a leader in promoting the “Zero Suicide initiative” and has implemented the model in mental health settings, psychiatric emergency programs and substance use settings. The state is now expanding this model into medical emergency departments and primary care practices. By partnering with clinical settings, schools, higher education and community organizations, it expects the newest youth-focused suicide prevention grant to reach 35,000 youth over five years.

Suicide Prevention Training

More than 20,000 New Yorkers have taken a suicide prevention training in the past two years through OMH's Suicide Prevention Office (SPO).

As COVID-19 continues to affect New York, the SPO realized the importance of training people who interact with the community in new, important ways:

√ SPO trained 650 state Department of Health contact tracers on how to respond when people impacted by COVID-19 voice suicidal thoughts.

√ Sept. 10 – International Suicide Prevention Day – marks the beginning of suicide prevention training that will ultimately be made available to 6,000 emergency medical personnel. This training will help frontline workers recognize the warning signs in their coworkers and get them the help they need.

The state has also taken extraordinary steps to support New Yorkers during the pandemic, including the creation of the NY Project Hope emotional support helpline. The free, confidential helpline offers callers coping tips, connects them to resources and has a special line for health care and other frontline workers. The helpline is: 1-844-863-9314.

During the peak of the pandemic, Cuomo also announced a partnership with Kate Spade New York and Crisis Text Line to create the FRONTLINENY keyword, specific for the frontline workers emotionally impacted by COVID-19.

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