Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

DHS news release

April 25, 2006

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, (971) 673-1282
Technical contact: Mel Kohn, M.D., (971) 673-0982

Suicide prevention grant to benefit seven counties, Warm Springs Tribe

A new $1.2 million suicide-prevention grant from the federal government will benefit seven Oregon counties and a Central Oregon tribe, public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services said Tuesday.


The grant, awarded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and announced last week by Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, awards $400,000 a year for three years.


"The need is great," said state epidemiologist Mel Kohn, M.D. He said the grant will benefit four regions that have the highest suicide and suicide-attempt rates in the state, and that are also home to 32 percent of the state's youth.


The regions are:

  • Jackson and Josephine counties in southern Oregon
  • Baker Umatilla, Union and Wallow counties in northeast Oregon
  • Lane County in the Willamette Valley
  • the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs northwest of Madras

"These are areas that have the highest suicide hospitalization and death rates in the state," Kohn said. "Importantly, they also have prevention efforts in place to build upon and they can form partnerships that are necessary to implementing the grant."


Some of the activities that will be funded are:

  • Provide suicide intervention skills training for people who work with youth.
  • Establish active emergency room suicide attempt case reporting so that outreach and follow-up services can occur.
  • Establish a comprehensive suicide prevention program in schools.
  • Establish survivor support in communities.
  • Explore how to engage businesses in workplace-based suicide prevention to reach youth ages 20 to 24.
  • Establish family support networks.


"I'm pleased that we will have some resources to fund a key recommendation of the Governor's Mental Health Task Force," said Bob Nikkel, M.S.W., DHS mental health and addictions administrator. "They advised that suicide prevention should be a seamless partnership among state and communities, and that it should take a best practices approach."

Both Kohn and Nikkel praised the work of Senator Smith in raising awareness and advocating for federal suicide prevention funding.


"Senator Smith has been a dedicated leader in this important area," said Kohn. "We intend to make the best possible use of these dollars by implementing activities that address prevention across the spectrum--among individuals, families, communities, institutes and a t the societal level."


A multidisciplinary group representing public and private organizations, state and local government and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs developed the proposal. DHS public health and mental health, along with community mental health and local public health directors were involved in writing the proposal. These groups, as well as schools and other community partners, will be key players in implementing the grant, according to Kohn.


"We all expect to learn a great deal about what works and can be replicated in other counties around the state as communities gain experience with this multi-faceted approach to prevention," Kohn said.


The Garret Lee Smith Memorial Act, passed in 2004, created a suicide prevention program within SAMHSA and authorized $82 million in federal funding over three years.


Oregon also received SAMSHA funding last fall. Two $75,000 grants went to Blue Mountain Community College and to a coalition of eight universities led by the University of Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology for campus-based suicide prevention activities. The Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest was granted $400,000 a year for three years for suicide prevention among Native American youth.