SAMHSA awards $46.8M in grants for suicide prevention and crisis counseling

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that it is awarding up to $46.8 million in grant funds to programs that help prevent suicide and provide assistance to those who have been affected by a natural or man-made disasters. The funds were awarded in September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, and just days after President Obama proclaimed World Suicide Prevention Day 2015, which urges leaders, organizations, and health care providers to raise awareness about mental health and support services that are available in their communities and to encourage individuals in need of care to seek treatment.

Lifeline

SAMHSA awarded one $18.6 million grant that will provide funding for the next three years to Link2Health Solutions, Inc., which is based in New York City, and operates the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) (1-800-273 TALK (8255)), and the National Disaster Distress Helpline (Helpline).

SAMHSA will be awarding $15.9 million of the funding to the Lifeline, which will be used for the continued administration and enhancement of the nationwide network of crisis centers that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide counseling for individuals suffering from emotional distress or who are experiencing a suicidal crisis.

The Lifeline was launched on January 1, 2005, and was funded by SAMHSA. Since its launch, the Lifeline has embarked on various initiatives aimed at improving crisis services and suicide prevention. Last year, the Lifeline responded to more than 1.3 million calls, and received an average of 3,719 calls per day. Overall, the Lifeline has responded to over seven and a half million calls from people experiencing crises.

Anyone who is in crisis or is concerned about someone else can call the Lifeline and be connected to the nearest crisis center within the Lifeline network. Additionally, individuals can get help by going to the Lifeline website and clicking on the “Click to Chat” button. Individuals can contact the Lifeline via TTY for the deaf and hearing impaired at 1-800-799-4889 or in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454.

Helpline

SAMHSA is also awarding $2.8 million over the next three years to increase the capacity of the Helpline (1-900-985-5990), which provides resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people in need of crisis counseling after natural or man-made disasters or tragedies. The Helpline is toll-free and provides confidential services and connects individuals with trained professions from the nearest crisis counseling center. Additionally, people requiring emotional assistance after a disaster can also text TalkWithUs to 66746 or go to the SAMHSA disaster assistance website. Individuals can also contact the Helpline via TTY for the deaf and hearing impaired at 1-800-864-8517.

The Disaster Distress Helpline has provided assistance since its launch in 2012 to individuals after disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Ebola outbreak.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

In a separate grant, SAMHSA is awarding $28.2 million in funds over the next five years to the Education Development Center, Inc., in Waltham, Massachusetts, to help manage the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). The SPRC provides technical assistance, training, and resources to various organizations such as states, tribes, and SAMHSA grantees, to assist in the development of suicide prevention strategies.

The SPRC is also the Executive Secretariat for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which is a public-private partnership working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

SAMHSA

The SAMHSA is an agency within HHS that implements efforts to advance behavioral health throughout the country. Its mission is to reduce the impact that substance abuse and mental illness takes on communities.

Acting SAMHSA Administrator, Kana Enomoto said, “Suicide and emotional turmoil can destroy lives and shatter families and communities.” Enomoto added, “Yet when people in crisis get help they can recover, and lead full productive lives. That is why these programs are so essential.”