Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition

VTSPC September 2022 Coalition Meeting Recap

Coalition Menu

Join The Coalition
Questions? Contact:

VTSPC September 2022 Coalition Meeting Recap

October 10, 2022
Thank you all for your continued engagement in the Coalition. 61 people attended the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition (VTSPC) meeting that was held virtually on September 8, 2022.

Welcome, Warm-up and Recognitions:

Kirk Postlewaite, Senior Program Specialist, Kate Morey, Program and Policy Specialist, Eric Jones, Technology and Marketing Specialist, and Zan Lewis, Program Specialist

Kirk shared the purpose of the Coalition and shared information about the Vermont Suicide Prevention Symposium – a virtual, full-day event on September 29, 2022. Zan introduced a warmer discussion on working groups as a way to participate in additional coalition activities. Participants shared their thoughts with each other via Jamboard in breakout groups.

Current State of Suicide Prevention efforts at the Department of Mental Health

Alex Karambelas, Senior Policy Director at the Department of Mental Health (DMH): Alex described H.740, a funding request to expand Zero Suicide to all 10 Designated Agencies (DA) and 2 Special Service Agencies (SSA), including mini-grants to promote suicide safer pathways to care between Primary Care Practices and DAs. Additionally, funds released support statewide leadership and coordination with a full-time position to lead evaluation, prevention, and early intervention efforts, policy development, and grant & project management. It also includes funds for eldercare outreach. 

Alex shared the FY23 Department of Mental Health and Center for Learning Grant goals. Lastly, an overview of Mobile Crisis Intervention and gaps & opportunities was given, along with planning the next steps as an alternative to using the Emergency Department.

Update on the Suicide Prevention Grant awarded to VT from the CDC – Facing Suicide

Nick Nichols, Suicide Grant Coordinator at Vermont Department of Health (VDH)Strategies and activities of the CSP grant include reducing access to lethal means, expanding training, expanding support to at-risk communities, improving postvention response to suicide loss, supporting suicide safe care among non-DA healthcare providers, increasing access via telehealth, and public messaging and media campaigns. Facing Suicide VT is a public-facing website. Nick shared the Facing Suicide Outreach and Social Media Toolkit for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. GLS award from SAMHSA offers a focus on youth and young adults, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, child welfare, and justice-involved youth over 5 years of funding.

Update on the monthly suicide data

Caitlin Quinn, Public Health Analyst, Suicide Prevention Epidemiology at Vermont Department of Health: Suicide in Vermont is increasing. From the most recent monthly report, provisional 2022 data has the number of Vermonters who have died by or visited the ED for suicide trending higher than previous years.

Insights from AAS: Firearm Risk Assessment and the Role of Gender in Veterans’ Suicide Attempts and Recovery

Tom Delaney, Ph.D., UVM Larner College of Medicine:  Suicide rates for veterans have increased between 2001 and 2019. Veteran suicide attempts are more likely to involve firearms (70% of veteran suicide deaths). In this time period, firearm deaths by those identifying as veteran women are the largest increase in lethal means. The FLAME Safe Storage Assessment is an evaluation to determine risk and safe storage changes an owner should make according to their risk.

Another study shared is that of Dr. Lauren Denneson et al. in the VA system focused on understanding the factors that may influence the rise in Veteran women suicide deaths, as well as recovery needs and goals. They found differences between the two identified genders in the study: men and women, that can inform recovery approaches. There was a discussion in the Coalition meeting about needs for gender inclusivity in future studies.

988 Project Share and Q&A

Jill Lloyd, Program Manager, State Engagement at V!brant Emotional Health, Amy Giudice, Coordinator of the 988 Coalition at Vermont Department of Mental Health, Terri Lavely, Training, Development and Advancement Director at the Northeast Kingdom Human Services, Tony Stevens, Director of Crisis Services at Northwest Counseling & Support Services: Jill gave a national overview of the 988 program as a local safety net: a network of independently operated, funded local and state call centers, providing free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. 988 is different from 911 in that the person on the phone is the intervention and the focus is on the least restrictive intervention possible.

Amy shared the coalition and planning process of 988 in Vermont, including implementation guidance. A coalition of key stakeholders with diverse representation and ongoing collaboration as its pillars served to advise on the planning & implementation of 988.

Terri and Tony discussed data from their two respective call centers, showing that the number of calls made between July and August of 2021 and 2022 increased significantly. Chats and texts, while used less than calls, increased between July ‘21 and July ‘22 (42 to 101 chats and 13 to 43 texts, respectively).

Legislative Recap

Kate Morey, Program and Policy Specialist, CHL, Heather White, Area Director, AFSP:  

Kate shared that the Suicide Prevention Legislative Engagement Session revealed the following final budget allocations:

  1. 988 – $440,159;
  2. Zero Suicide – $260,000;
  3. Suicide Prevention Director – $115,000;
  4. Suicide prevention for older Vermonters – $100,000.

The takeaways from the past year are:

  1. Leaders in the state are aware of the need for increased suicide prevention programs;
  2. both the house and the senate need more education;
  3. important to find and connect with legislators who support prevention efforts;
  4. partnerships strengthen the coalition work; and
  5. policy, educational, and advocacy messaging needs to be clear and concise.

Heather, after coalition members in breakout rooms identified 3-4 priorities for the upcoming Legislative session, shared more about the Public Policy Committee and advocacy opportunities and facilitated discussion around priorities identified by Coalition members. Some themes that came from breakout discussions included a focus on youth, secure storage, multilingual and BIPOC counselors & outreach needed, involvement of PWLE at all levels, financial and other support for staff that provides prevention & treatment, and others.

Trainings and Resources

Members and attendees were reminded that there are a number of Umatter training options as well as to register for the Suicide Prevention Symposium and Pre-Symposium on building Men’s Sheds in VT (for more information, email Additionally, links were shared to Introduction to ZS and CSSRS trainings. Heather White shared that AFSP VT is hosting five Out of the Darkness Walks from mid-September through late October:

Stay in The Loop on Suicide Prevention

Join The Vermont Suicide
Prevention Coalition