VERMONT AWARDED $3.8 MILLION GRANT FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

Montpelier, Vt. –Governor Phil Scott today announced that Vermont has received $3.8 million in federal funding for suicide prevention. The five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will support the implementation and evaluation of the state’s comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The announcement coincides with today’s observance of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Deaths due to suicide are tragic and leave a lasting impact on families and loved ones,” said Governor Scott. “This grant will help ensure Vermonters who are struggling have access to the resources they need to help them through their challenges, and, hopefully prevent these unfortunate events,” Governor Scott said.

“This grant is timely as these are exceedingly stressful times. To any Vermonter who is experiencing crisis or feels helpless: Please know you matter to a lot of people, and help is available,” Governor Scott added.

According to the CDC, suicide is an increasing public health crisis that took more than 48,000 lives in the U.S. in 2018. As of September 4, 2020, there have been 72 suicide deaths in Vermont this year. Over the last 10 years, the number of suicides in Vermont has risen, with a current rate 34% higher than that of the U.S. as a whole.

“Vermont is well poised to expand, strengthen and bring to scale our suicide prevention efforts,” said Department of Mental Health Commissioner Sarah Squirrell. “Suicide does not only impact those experiencing mental health challenges, and we owe it to each person to have in place the systems to meet them where they are – and in a way that is appropriate to their individual needs and circumstances.”

The Vermont Addressing Suicide Together (VAST) project will use the federal grant to build on existing partnerships and programs to implement and evaluate a data-driven public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The project will bolster collective efforts on the integration between healthcare and mental health, and work to ensure all Vermonters have access to the supports they need.

The VAST project will:

  • Develop a more coordinated statewide prevention effort with state partners and communities
  • Utilize data analysis to identify vulnerable populations and to better characterize risk and protective factors impacting suicide
  • Expand the delivery and provision of suicide prevention and care for at risk and underserved populations with a focus on health equity and improved access
  • Expand Zero Suicide activities to rural Vermont counties and engage Community Health Teams in this initiative
  • Facilitate Gatekeeper trainings with sexual minority advocates and social services agencies
  • Expand recovery and peer support groups including groups for first responders

“Suicide is caused by multiple factors and prevention must go beyond individual behavior change,” said Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Support and coordination are needed from every sector of society that can directly promote resilience and reduce risk factors such as isolation, stress, substance use, and relationship, financial and job issues.”

For more information, resources and data about suicide prevention in Vermont, please visit healthvermont.gov/suicide.

If you or someone you know is thinking about or planning to take their own life, there is help 24/7:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support. In an emergency, you can also call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department. For more information, please visit vtspc.org/suicide-resources/get-help/.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line: Text “VT” to 741741 anywhere in the U.S. about any type of crisis. Get immediate counseling and support through text messaging.
  • Call the Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ Crisis Lifeline): 1-866-488-7368
  • Call the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
  • Visit one of 10 community mental health centers located around Vermont that offer crisis services and ongoing supports. For more information, please visit mentalhealth.vermont.gov/individuals-and-families.
  • Talk to a family member, friend, health care provider, a faith leader, teacher or coach.

Asking someone about suicide (or talking about it) does not increase the risk of suicide. Whatever the concern, it is important to talk with children, teens and young adults early, and offer help when someone is struggling or comes to you. This connection can give them a chance to discuss it again in the future.

Suicide is preventable. Know the Warning Signs: suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/

Contact

Sarah Squirrell, Commissioner | Dept. of Mental Health | sarah.squirrell@vermont.gov | 802-241-0137