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Kansas to receive more than $3.6 million for youth suicide prevention

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will receive over $3.6 million to implement youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies thanks to a five-year federal grant. 

The department hopes this funding will help reduce suicides and suicidal ideation in Kansans aged 10 to 24 years old.

“Improving mental health in every community, including among our youngest Kansans, is essential to creating a healthy, thriving Kansas,” Governor Laura Kelly said in a press release. “This funding will further our efforts to reduce suicide rates by providing support and resources for Kansans in crisis.” 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund the Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Program Grant.

It aims to help Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services better serve its young residents through schools, the juvenile justice system, substance use programs, mental health programs and the foster care system, according to the release.

“This grant funding tells young people across Kansas that ‘we hear you asking for support and help, and your voices are being heard,’” Secretary Laura Howard said. “This federal funding allows us to implement effective programs at the local level where we can reach our younger population who are struggling with their mental health and guide them to the resources they need in their community.” 

The funding will be used to focus on youth and young adults living in southeast Kansas and Wyandotte County.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will aim to address issues identified by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and implement recommendations from the Kansas Governor’s Mental Health Task Force and the Special Committee on Mental Health Modernization and Reform.  

The department wants to use the funding to do the following, according to the release:

  • Strengthen and broaden public communication efforts about risk and protective factors for suicide; 
  • Improve suicide risk recognition among youth organizations and professionals by increasing connections to culturally sensitive, consumer-responsive treatment services; 
  • Evaluate, develop, and implement evidence-based suicide screenings at behavioral health care and educational sites; 
  • Implement and enhance safety net support, including the creation of safety plans and referrals to treatment; 
  • Expand access to suicide post-intervention counseling by providing training; 
  • Improve statewide capacity to collect and analyze data related to suicide prevention efforts and suicide morbidity/mortality. 

Bailey Blair, the Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition president, thinks the funding will help the state achieve these goals.

“The award of Garrett Lee Smith funding to support suicide prevention in Kansas is recognition of the incredible work done to this point and the exciting potential for collaboration across sectors to reduce suicidality and deaths of despair in our youth,” Blair said in the release. “The influx of resources combined with the infrastructure created by suicide prevention advocates and allied professionals across the state will allow for novel and responsive solutions to issues facing youth in Kansas and support the integration of suicide prevention practices across the lifespan.”