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SAMHSA News - November/December 2007, Volume 15, Number 6

From the Administrator: Making a Difference, Saving a Life

When it comes to suicide prevention, SAMHSA is making every effort to fund effective programs for at-risk populations, including students on college campuses.

The SAMHSA News cover story highlights this effort.

SAMHSA's efforts are guided by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP), which represents the combined work of advocates, clinicians, researchers, and survivors around the Nation.

The NSSP is a collaborative effort among public and private organizations, including several agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Federal agencies include SAMHSA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health.

The Strategy lays out a framework for action to prevent suicide, following goals and objectives designed with leadership from the Surgeon General. The NSSP is designed to be a catalyst for social change to transform attitudes, policies, and services.

As a result of enactment of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, SAMHSA's activity in suicide prevention has increased dramatically. At the start of 2005, there were two competitive grant awards for suicide prevention. At the end of 2005, there were 46. At the end of 2006, there were more than 100.

These awards included State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention grants.

Other grants have been made under the Linking Adolescents at Risk to Mental Health Services Grant program, which focuses on school-based suicide prevention programs to assess whether youth at risk can be identified and families engaged.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center, another activity of the NSSP, serves as a national resource for suicide prevention information and provides technical assistance to Garrett Lee Smith grantees. It also helps states develop statewide suicide prevention plans.

Another key SAMHSA suicide prevention program is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The national toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK. Calls are routed automatically to the closest crisis center within a nationwide network of 120 centers.

Beginning in 2008, SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health will ask all respondents age 18 or older about suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. This is an important step forward.

SAMHSA considers suicide prevention a critical investment in our Nation's future. For every life we save through our prevention efforts, we make a difference.

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