Governor’s suicide prevention fund awards $247,500 in grants

The Governor’s Suicide Prevention Fund has awarded $247,500 in grants to organizations working to prevent suicide in Utah.

Davis Behavioral Health, Encircle, HOPE4UTAH, National Center for Veterans Studies, Utah Pride Center, The Family Place, Utah Navajo Health System and Reach4Hope Suicide Prevention Coalition in Washington County have each been awarded a $30,000 grant. Continue Mission will receive a $7,500 grant.

“In a small way, these grants represent the hope we would like to share with those among us who feel hopeless. We trust these funds will be a boost of support to those agencies that are on the front lines of responding to mental health crises and spreading hope,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the many Utah taxpayers who contributed to this fund through their tax returns, as well as by the generosity of Intermountain Healthcare, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah State Legislature.”

“Since the beginning of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, I have been honored to be part of our administration’s efforts to bring light and hope to suffering Utahns. It is our sincere hope that these grants will provide meaningful resources to the nine awarded organizations, each focused on helping those in despair,” said Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox. “We express heartfelt gratitude to the many Utahns who contributed to make these grants possible.”

Utah Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services Administrator Kim Myers said the organizations who received grants are working to administer data-driven solutions to support individuals and families.

“The breadth and scope of these projects are an important reminder of what suicide prevention is all about: promoting meaningful lives through overall health and wellness, social relationships and connections, healthy and safe communities and tools to weather life’s challenges,” Myers said.

The Governor’s Suicide Prevention Fund was created in the 2018 General Session by H.B. 370. The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health established a grant application and review process for these funds, which are ultimately awarded by the governor. These funds are aimed at reducing the prevalence of suicidal death, thoughts/ideations, and supporting crisis interventions when necessary.

Funding for these grants comes from donations from Intermountain Healthcare, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, individual tax form donations, and increased support from the Utah State Legislature. Funds contributed to the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Fund this year are eligible for a match from the Utah State Legislature thanks to 2019’s H.B. 393.

Details on how these organizations plan to use funding from the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Fund can be found below:

Continue Mission will use their grant to motivate Veterans to step out of isolation and find a path to healing by providing recreational activities that allow them to enjoy health and wellness programs in nature, as well as providing much-needed camaraderie with other Veterans and family members.

Davis Behavioral Health will use the funds to support Working Minds, an evidence-based training that prepares businesses to proactively address mental health and suicide prevention in the workplace, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). This program trains participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety.

Encircle will use the additional funding to support programs centered around enhanced learning, knowledge, connection and belonging, perceptions, attitudes, skills and self-acceptance to serve LGBTQ+ youth, families, and the community needs.

HOPE4UTAH plans to use the funds to establish a Statewide Volunteer Crisis Team to support individuals in rural and charter schools in Utah. They also aim to help rural and charter schools prepare to respond after a suicide to promote healing and reduce the risk of contagion, as well as provide QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.) training to help individuals learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, know how to offer hope, and know how to get help to save a life.

National Center for Veterans Studies will utilize these funds to increase the frequency of follow-up caring contacts post-treatment. Caring contacts will be sent via text, mail or email, depending on the preference of the service member and veteran. Caring contacts can reduce isolation, increase connectedness and increase hope that one’s recovery and progress will endure after treatment. Funding for the National Center for Veterans Studies will begin in July 2019.

Utah Pride Center will use the funds to offer Cultural Competency Training focused around current research, language, and best practices related to the LGBTQ+ community; and how to understand the experiences of and issues faced by LGBTQ+ people and how to provide best services to this population. They, too, will focus on providing QPR training, in addition to providing services like peer support groups, youth activity nights, and mental health counseling. They also aim to develop and support a protocol for how to respond after a suicide in the LGBTQ+ community in a way that promotes healing and reduces the risk of contagion.

Utah Navajo Health System will put the grant toward creating increased access to mental and behavioral healthcare services, providing evidence-based suicide prevention training, including Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and SafeTalk. They will also develop a county-wide plan for response after a suicide death in the community.

The Family Place will use the funds to host a conference focused on resiliency and ways to reduce community and individual risk factors and ways to enhance community and individual risk factors. They will also provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to community members, specifically Veterans and military, rural areas, and opioid users. MHFA is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems.

Reach4Hope Suicide Prevention Coalition in Washington County will use the grant to implement the evidence-based Strengthening Families program. This program is designed to engage families and communities in building five key Protective Factors. They will also provide Life Skills Training (LST) for middle school and high school students. This program focuses on teaching students skills that enhance self-esteem, develop problem-solving abilities, reduce stress and anxiety, manage anger, build communication and relationship skills, and avoid harmful behaviors like violence and drug use.