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The Zero Suicide Initiative: Working Towards Suicide-Safer Communities

Veterans Support & Mental Health Care

Endeavors was just awarded a significant grant for Suicide Prevention training, and it could not have come at a better time.

 According to the CDC, 12 million American adults in 2019 alone thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. The sad truth is, 2019 wasn’t an outlier year. The CDC also reports that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death across all age groups, and the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-34.  

These numbers are heartbreaking. 

And on top of this, the prolonged isolation and extreme stress of the Covid-19 crisis has many experts concerned about the implications the pandemic may have on mental health and the increase of suicidal ideation. 

We need to act now.

Stepping Up To Make A Difference

The good news is, Endeavors is a highly-dedicated organization making big moves to decrease suicide. We firmly believe that suicide is preventable, and we are passionate about supporting efforts to decrease the number of individuals who die by suicide. 

This is why we are thrilled to announce that Endeavors was recently awarded a Zero Suicide grant for a staggeringly generous $2 million over five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As one of just ten Zero Suicide grant recipients nationwide and the only small non-profit entity, Endeavors is honored and humbled by this financial support, and we are ready to roll out a powerhouse program to combat suicide rates across our clientele, and across the nation.

These funds will enable our team to save lives.

The Zero Suicide Initiative

Our goal with this program? Zero suicides. 

We know that’s ambitious, but we firmly believe that suicides are preventable, and that people suffering from suicidal thoughts and behaviors can rebuild a life of stability and safety with the proper resources and support.

To achieve our goal, we are launching a Zero Suicide Initiative across all four pillars of our organization — Veteran Support & Wellness, Emergency Services, Community Based Services, and Migrant Services

Endeavors’ Zero Suicide Initiative seeks to identify suicidal risk early by training both clinical and front-line staff — this means everyone in the Endeavors community, from intake workers to clinicians to housing counselors to administrative personnel. Anyone who serves as a point of contact for our prospective clients will be trained to assess risk, collaborate with the individual on safety planning, and connect them to the level of care the individual identifies as most beneficial at that time.  This training targets the vital importance of early intervention, identification of needs, and enhanced access to care, particularly for rural residents and other unrecognized, at-risk individuals.

Dr. Jill Palmer, Acting Chief of Behavioral Health, explains that all Endeavors staff will go through the training program, because “we are humans interacting with other humans, regardless of our job titles.” She adds, “We pride ourselves on having compassion for those who need assistance and helping to prevent suicide and decreasing risk is showing compassion and care when someone needs it the most.”

The training Endeavors will implement is built on the Zero Suicide Model developed by the Education Development Center, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. This model is grounded in the belief that suicide deaths for individuals under care of health professionals are preventable, and will focus on seven framework elements:

  1. Train
  2. Lead
  3. Identify
  4. Engage
  5. Treat
  6. Transition
  7. Improve

The Zero Suicide Initiative will launch August 5, 2021 under the direction of Program Manager, Karah Smith, MA, LPC. She explains, “The grant enables Endeavors to move the focus of suicide prevention upstream by training all staff, both clinical and non-clinical, to not only empower more individuals to feel comfortable asking about suicide, but also create a safe space for people with suicidal thoughts to have open conversations and get connected to resources.”

As a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology, Smith is ardent about suicide prevention and has spent the last 6 years working in a mental health program serving veterans and their families. Also leading the charge is Project Coordinator Sierra Hunter, who previously dedicated her professional efforts to the Texas Veterans Commission grant team at our Veteran Wellness Center in San Antonio.

Smith added, “Our mission at Endeavors is to passionately serve vulnerable people in crisis through our innovative, personalized approach. Our new Zero Suicide Initiative is a prime example of how we are putting our mission into practice. We are looking forward to the great changes that will have a positive impact on our team, our community, and especially the individuals and families that we serve.”

Join The Effort To Make Death By Suicide A Thing Of The Past

Endeavors is overjoyed to have the support of SAMHSA in our fight for suicide prevention. But we also think it’s important to remind the community that everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. Whether it’s awarding a $2 million grant or extending a hand to someone suffering from suicidal thoughts, we can all make a difference. Most of the time, soft skills and interpersonal connection go a long way towards making an immediate and life-saving impact on a person. It’s all about learning to feel comfortable asking about suicide, developing the ability to connect someone at risk, and offering compassion and care to someone when they need it most.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or just wants to talk to someone, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text HOME to 741741. The national Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. If the threat to safety is immediate, call 911 or go to your local emergency room. The time to seek help is now..

About Endeavors and Cohen Veterans Network

Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org

Cohen Veterans Network is a 501(c)(3) national not for profit philanthropic network of mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans and their families. CVN focuses on improving mental health outcomes, via a network of outpatient mental health clinics for veterans and their families in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. The network currently has 19 clinics in operation serving veterans and their families across the country. Learn more about Cohen Veterans Network.

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