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DHS news release

Oct. 14, 2005


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (971) 673-1282

Technical contacts: Lisa Millet, DHS (971) 673-1059

Chris Matthews, Sen. Gordon Smith's office (202) 224-3753


Oregon youth suicide prevention bolstered by $550,000 federal grants



Youth suicide prevention efforts in Oregon have gotten a significant boost through three new grants amounting to $550,000 from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).


The new dollars will build programs that will enhance current suicide education and prevention efforts already underway, according to Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist who oversees the statewide youth suicide prevention program in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).


SAMSHA administers the grants, which were made possible by the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act named for Sen. Gordon Smith's son.


"Every dollar that helps heal those battling life-threatening depression brings us closer to saving our children and families," Senator Smith , R-Oregon, said. "These awards will complement the activities of Oregon's state youth suicide prevention progam and provide resources to build on existing efforts at the local level."


The grants are:

  • $150,000 for campus-based prevention activities. Of that, $75,000 will go to a coalition of eight state universities led by Robin Holmes at the University of Oregon and $75,000 will go to Blue Mountain Community College.For more information contact Robin Holmes, University of Oregon (541) 346-3221 and Susan Plass, Blue Mountain Community College at (541) 278-5838.
  • $400,000 to the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA) program for suicide prevention among Native American youth. For more information contact Jackie Mercer, NARA, (503) 224-1044 ext. 227.


In December of 2000, DHS unveiled a statewide youth suicide prevention plan, developed through work with communities and national experts and based on best practices defined in professional literature. The plan emphasizes comprehensive approaches: public education, targeted health education, community-based intervention skills, social connection and educating primary care providers.


Kohn said the two new grants will fund programs that are based on strategies drawn from the statewide plan.


Youth suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and young adults ages 10-24. In 2003, DHS recorded 922 attempts treated in emergency departments across the state, Kohn said.


More youth suicide prevention resources are on the Web, including the statewide plan, at the DHS youth suicide prevention Web site.