Today, during a meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center Grantees, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will announce the award of six grants totaling more than $1 million over three years to support suicide prevention.

The funds will help crisis centers throughout the country develop special follow up services for people at high risk of dying by suicide.

Every month, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline run by SAMHSA takes 44,000 calls. While not every caller is at acute risk for suicide, past research has shown that large numbers of callers have significant histories of suicidal ideation and attempts.

Crisis centers provide invaluable services and for those at imminent risk for suicide, emergency intervention is frequently initiated and may result in a psychiatric hospitalization or other acute mental health service provision. For those not at imminent risk, crisis hotlines will typically provide referrals to mental health and other services, and will also advise the caller that they may call back if they are in crisis or have additional needs.

After a call to the crisis line, up to 43 percent of suicidal callers experience some recurrence of suicidal ideation within the next few weeks.

This recurrence of suicidal thinking underscores the importance of receiving followup mental health care.

However, past evaluations of the hotline have found that only a minority of suicidal callers set up an appointment. Upon followup, only 22.5 percent of suicidal callers had been seen by the behavioral health care system to which they had been referred and an additional 12.6 percent had an appointment scheduled but had not yet been seen.

This funding will help local organizations to design and implement much-needed suicide followup services and care.

  • The Mental Health Association of New York City, New York, N.Y.
  • Crisis Connection, Richfield, Minn.
  • Integrated Health Resources, LLC, Atlanta, Ga.
  • The Helpline Center, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Third Level Crisis Intervention Center, Traverse City, Mich.
  • Contra Costa Crisis Center, Walnut Creek, Calif.

The funds will be presented by SAMHSA Acting Administrator, Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H.