James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

September 19, 2017

NYS Office of Mental Health Announces $3.5 million Federal Suicide Prevention Grant

New York Only State in Nation to Receive the Award

The Office of Mental Health today announced that New York is the only state in nation to have received a grant award from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Zero Suicide grant program. The award of $3.5 million over five years will help implement and strengthen the State’s suicide prevention efforts.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “This federal grant reinforces New York’s reputation as a national leader in suicide prevention. Our entire team in the Suicide Prevention Office are to be commended for their work to prevent suicide and their adherence to the goal that even one suicide is one too many.”

The federal grant award was announced by Commissioner Sullivan during the agency’s annual Suicide Prevention Conference, which drew about 350 participants to the Capital Region.

SAMHSA received more than 120 applications from eligible parties, which included States and US territories, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, community-based primary care or behavioral health care organizations, emergency departments and local public health agencies. Only three applications were approved for awards; New York was the only State to win an award, the largest of $3.5 million. 

Dr. Jay Carruthers, Director of OMH’s Suicide Prevention Office (SPO) said, “When we created the SPO in 2014, our goal was to coordinate and align all OMH-sponsored suicide prevention activities. This recognition from the federal government truly demonstrates the staff’s commitment to preventing suicide attempts and deaths among New Yorkers. “

SAMHSA’s Zero Suicide model is a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in health systems. The grant will support implementation of the model in 6 (six) large health systems across the state, including an intensive effort in Onondaga County aimed at creating a Zero Suicide safety net across an extensive network of health and behavioral health providers. The program emphasizes systematic screening, detection, intervention and monitoring for individuals who are 25 years of age or older to improve care and outcomes for individuals at risk for suicide. 

The grant reflects the latest recognition of number of suicide prevention activities championed by the State. OMH’s efforts were acknowledged and supported by a 2014 SAMHSA grant, which helped the agency implement the Zero Suicide model in participating health systems in Western New York. Building on that success, OMH recently began a large-scale implementation of Zero Suicide in nearly 170 mental health clinics across the state. Over the past year, OMH has supported suicide prevention trainings of thousands of clinicians, school personnel, and community members.

In 2016, OMH’s Suicide Prevention Office released “1700 Too Many: The New York State Suicide Prevention Plan” https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/resources/publications/suicde-prevention-plan.pdF

The Plan addresses the state’s strategy to decrease the number of deaths, including ensuring access to quality mental health services, as well as well coordinated, collective efforts that include behavioral health systems, schools, and communities working together using evidence-based and best practices in the field.

The Zero Suicide model has seven essential elements of suicide care:

  • Lead - Create a leadership-driven, safety-oriented culture committed to dramatically reducing suicide among people under care.  Include survivors of suicide attempts and suicide loss in leadership and planning roles;
  • Train - Develop a competent, confident, and caring workforce;
  • Identify - Systematically identify and assess suicide risk among people receiving care;
  • Engage - Ensure every individual has a pathway to care that is both timely and adequate to meet his or her needs. Include collaborative safety planning and restriction of lethal means;
  • Treat - Use effective, evidence-based treatments that directly target suicidal thoughts and behaviors;
  • Transition - Provide continuous contact and support, especially after acute care; and
  • Improve - Apply a data-driven, quality improvement approach to inform system changes that will lead to improved patient outcomes and better care for those at risk.

Although New York has one of the lowest suicide rates in the nation, the State was plagued with 1,700 such deaths in 2014. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, and it casts a long shadow on individuals, families, and communities.




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