PSAs and Other Initiatives Strengthen New York's Suicide Prevention Efforts
Governor's Proclamation Declares September 10 Suicide Prevention Day in New York State
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a new digital public service announcement and other initiatives to raise awareness of suicide prevention and advise New Yorkers of available resources across the state. The Governor also issued a proclamation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Month and September 10 as Suicide Prevention Day in New York.
"Every suicide is a tragedy — especially because suicide can be prevented. As we recognize Suicide Prevention Month, I urge all New Yorkers to know the warning signs and how they can reach out for immediate help, for themselves or for others." Governor Hochul said. "Our initiatives have a specific focus on young New Yorkers, as we know that this past year has been particularly difficult for children and teenagers who had to participate in online learning due to COVID-19. That's why I believe it's so important to emphasize that we, as a community and as a state, need to support our children and families to help ensure happiness and success."
Even though NY has one of the lowest suicide rates in the nation we still sadly lose 1,700 New Yorkers to suicide each year. The Office of Mental Health's (OMH) Suicide Prevention Center of New York (SPCNY) carefully watches for trends in our communities in order to help identify and engage at risk individuals and keep them out of harm's way.
The digital campaign will run for the entire month of September and emphasizes the importance of creating positive social relationships through individual, family, and community connections to aid in suicide prevention.
Another segment of the digital campaign will focus on ageism and the impact it has on mental health. The ads are designed to drive viewers to SPCNY webpages for more information and resources on the respective topics.
The Crisis Text Line (CTL) is also being promoted by OMH throughout the month on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. CTL is a free, anonymous, text-based support network that's available 24/7. OMH and CTL have partnered on several initiatives to raise awareness of suicide prevention resources that are available to the public.
OMH is also working to raise awareness of the Crisis Text Line through the "Got5 Challenge" for New York State school districts. School districts that join the Challenge will be tasked with promoting the Crisis Text Line using social media, email, posters and signs. Messaging will include a video produced by SPCNY that explains how CTL works.
The first 200 schools to participate in the "Got5 Challenge" will receive complementary Crisis Text Line promotional items that can be shared at the school.
Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Each year, across the United States, nearly 50,000 individuals lose their life by suicide. Tragically, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24. Every life lost by suicide leaves behind grieving friends, family members and colleagues. OMH works with our communities to help people understand and recognize the warning signs of suicide, and to provide hope and support for individuals at risk. Please reach out if you or someone you know needs help."
Other suicide prevention initiatives announced by Governor Hochul and OMH include:
2021 Suicide Prevention Symposium
OMH's Suicide Prevention Center of New York will host a suicide prevention symposium from Tuesday, September 28 through Thursday, September 30. The virtual symposium, titled "AIM for Zero: Suicide Care is Healthcare" will bring together the leading suicide prevention experts to discuss: the impact and importance of the Zero Suicide framework in healthcare systems, the importance of equity and inclusivity, strategies for high impact healthcare outcomes, as well as highlighting cutting edge tools for implementation.
New Innovative Suicide Prevention Program to Launch in Syracuse
Governor Hochul and OMH also announced a new suicide prevention pilot program launching in Syracuse this fall, called Youth Nominated Support Team (YST). YST utilizes new research that indicates building a circle of trusted adults around a suicidal teen helps to support them during vulnerable times. This can have long-term effects that reduce their risk of dying by suicide.
Beginning this fall, inpatient teams from two hospitals in Syracuse, OMH's Hutchings Psychiatric Center and the Upstate Medical University, that care for teens in crisis will be able to refer suicidal teens for YST. An initial orientation session for the 3-4 adults nominated to be on each teen's support team is conducted prior to discharge. A YST trained social worker then provides weekly coaching calls on how to support the teen for 3 months. A rigorous study evaluating the impact of YST showed that fewer teens receiving the intervention died of overdose and suicide deaths after following study participants for 12 years on average.
The SPCNY is partnering with YST developers and a technology company specializing in the delivery of evidenced-based interventions as part of a federal youth suicide prevention grant.
OMH funding for Sources of Strength helps Vulnerable Young People
OMH also recently announced the availability of more than $700,000 in funding to implement "Sources of Strength", a nationally recognized suicide prevention program, in high schools and organizations for young people across the State. "Sources of Strength" is a universal school-based suicide prevention program that trains a diverse group of students as peer leaders and connects them with trusted adult advisors at school and in the community. Peer leaders conduct suicide prevention activities through direct personal contacts and presentations that promote healthy coping norms and youth-adult connections, including seeking help for distress and suicide concerns.
"Sources of Strength" is an important component in OMH's broader effort to support resiliency and prevent suicide among youth. Funding will help deliver the "Sources of Strength" program to youth in grades 9-12 in schools or other youth-serving settings.
A National Leader in New and Innovative Programs
New York has a history of innovation in suicide prevention, including establishment of the New York State Suicide Prevention Task Force (SPTF) 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, as well as veterans and residents of rural regions of the state. The work of SPTF led to the development of new initiatives to help these groups and to engage with all 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 showed that ASSIP reduced new suicide attempts by previous attempt-survivors by 80%. The first-ever evaluation of ASSIP in the United States had begun with sites in Rochester and Syracuse, NY.
- Sponsored by the New York Health Foundation and OMH, the Suicide Fatality Review (SFR) grant project is in four counties (Erie, Onondaga, Suffolk, and Westchester) and is entering its final phase. At end of this year data collected from in-depth reviews of over 400 suicide deaths in those counties will be analyzed. The same approach implemented in another state led to recommending a number of 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 Model an approach for integrating suicide prevention into health and behavioral health care systems. Beginning with 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 not just clinical settings, but also schools, higher education, and community organizations, we expect our youth-focused suicide prevention grant to reach 35,000 youth over five years.
Suicide Prevention Training
Since 2019, more than 84,000 suicide-specific trainings have been funded by the Office of Mental Health and delivered to community members, healthcare providers, school staff, and students across the state.
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