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

September 18, 2018

Office of Mental Health Recognizes Tompkins County Nonprofit Founders for Commitment to Suicide Prevention Efforts

‘The Sophie Fund’ Founders, Scott MacLeod and Susan Hack, Honored for Exemplary Advocacy Work as Suicide Loss Survivors

Albany, NY – Scott MacLeod, Susan Hack, and their Tompkins County not-for-profit, The Sophie Fund, has been honored by the New York State Office of Mental Health for profound suicide prevention efforts.

Scott, Susan, and The Sophie Fund, received the state’s Journey of Healing Award at the state’s 2018 Suicide Prevention Conference, held in Albany, presented for ‘exemplary advocacy by a Suicide Attempt or Suicide Loss Survivor’. Scott and Susan established The Sophie Fund after the 2016 death by suicide of their 23-year-old daughter, Sophie Hack MacLeod, a Cornell University student.

The Sophie Fund is a beautiful example of how a tragic loss can transform a community. Scott and Susan took their painful loss and channeled it into a passion to save lives in Tompkins County,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan. “We thank Scott, Susan and everyone involved in The Sophie Fund for their hard work and commitment to suicide prevention.”

The Sophie Fund was established to advocate for mental health initiatives, policies, programs and projects, especially for young people.  The organization was nominated for the Journey of Healing award by both the Tompkins County Mental Health Department and the Ithaca Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service. Scott and Susan are being honored for their tenacity in organizing mental health stakeholders in Tompkins County to adopt Watershed Declaration, calling for greater suicide prevention efforts to launch an initiative urging colleges, hospitals and mental health clinics in the county to adopt the Zero Suicide Model in healthcare.

“We humbly thank the Office of Mental Health, and our nominators in Tompkins County, for this recognition. In the loss of our precious Sophie in 2016, we witnessed the profound depths of mental illness and the immense tragedy of suicide. In establishing The Sophie Fund in her memory, we resolved to do everything possible to support young people battling mental disorders. Suicide is preventable, and we also resolved to do everything we could so that we do not lose one more person, young or old, to suicide in Sophie’s adopted Ithaca–Tompkins County community. We sincerely thank the countless people who have made The Sophie Fund’s work a reality—our supporters and partners in the Tompkins County community including the Cornell University and Ithaca College campuses; and friends, family, and others in the greater Ithaca area and far beyond who provided constant encouragement, practical advice, material support, financial donations, and innumerable kindnesses. Finally, we extend our gratitude to the New York Suicide Prevention Office for its relentless efforts in Tompkins County and throughout the state,” said Scott MacLeod and Susan Hack.

“Scott and Susan have transformed their grief in just two years into a powerful force of influence for suicide prevention in Tompkins County,” said Lee-Ellen Marvin, nominator from the Ithaca Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services.

For more information on The Sophie Fund, visit https://thesophiefund.org/    


Suicide Prevention in NYS

Preventing suicide is a priority in New York State.

In 2016, OMH’s Suicide Prevention Office released “1700 Too Many: The New York State Suicide Prevention Plan”.  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.


New York State Suicide Prevention Task Force

In his 2017 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo announced the New York State Suicide Prevention Task Force, which includes leaders from state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit groups, and other recognized experts in suicide prevention.

The Task Force is focusing on bridging gaps in current state suicide prevention efforts. It also highlights high-risk demographic groups and special populations, including members of the LGBT community, veterans, individuals with mental illness, Latina adolescents, and individuals struggling with alcohol and drug use. Veterans in New York State represent more than 15 percent of suicides, while nationally, LGBT adolescents are four times more likely to have attempted suicide than their non-LGBT peers. 

Committees of the Task Force have been meeting regularly and reaching out to Veterans' groups and members of the LGBT, Latina and other high-risk communities.  A report on partnerships and prevention efforts in those communities later this year.


NYS Health Connector

In early 2018, the New York State Department of Health launched the NYS Health Connector, a web-based application that allows quick access to a wide range of health information, empowering consumers to make more informed health care decisions. This new website, which also features health care service and utilization data, is a rich resource for policymakers and researchers interested in identifying needs and resources in communities throughout the state, including suicide prevention.

The death by suicide dashboard on the NYS Health Connector has been updated to include self-harm hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits statewide. In addition, 2016 data has been added to this version, along with interactivity for the county platforms and self-harm hospitalization and ED visualizations.


Suicide Prevention Training Opportunities

Suicide Prevention trainings are also available throughout New York State. Community groups can register for a suicide prevention training course through the Suicide Prevention Center of NY. Clinical trainings on best practices for suicide prevention can be accessed through the Center for Practice Innovations.


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