HHS announces awards for suicide prevention, behavioral healthcare programs

Sept. 28, 2023

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recently awarded $232.2 million in grants for suicide prevention and behavioral health care for at-risk communities, including more than $200 million in new funding for states, territories, and Tribal nations and organizations to build local capacity for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and related crisis services. Addressing the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration and a key pillar in President Biden’s Unity Agenda for the nation.

“September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During this month, we are reminded that suicide is preventable, and no one should go through a suicide-related crisis alone,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to tackling the mental health challenges facing America, and particularly focused on addressing the alarming rates of suicide.”

"Our country is facing an unprecedented behavioral health crisis impacting people of all ages," said Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. "The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting those who are struggling, their families, and everyone impacted by suicide. We have invested in 988, community- and school-based care, expanding our health workforce, and other critical supports. We will continue as long as needed."

SAMHSA’s 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 4.8% of adults ages 18 or older – about 12.3 million people – had serious thoughts of suicide, and among adolescents ages 12 to 17, 12.7% – about 3.3 million – had serious thoughts of suicide. 

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10–14 and 25–34 years, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. CDC provisional data reports that in 2022, 49,449 people died by suicide, an increase of approximately 2.6% from 2021. 

“We want everyone to know that there is hope, and there is help. Many people who have attempted suicide or experienced suicidal ideation are thriving in recovery and leading fulfilling lives because they got help,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “SAMHSA suicide prevention and behavioral health programs are saving lives and helping people thrive.”  

This week HHS awarded $200.7 million in new funding for states, territories, and Tribal nations and organizations to build local capacity for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 

  • $177.4 million for Cooperative Agreements for State and Territories to Build Local 988 Capacity to improve local response; enhance recruiting, hiring, and training of 988 crisis counselors; implement additional technology and security measures to support infrastructure and effectively coordinate across the crisis continuum; improve support and service for high-risk and underserved populations, including quality assurance and review of critical incidents; and develop and implement comprehensive communication plans; 
  • $18.3 million for 988 Lifeline Tribal Response Cooperative Agreements to improve response to 988 contacts made by American Indians/Alaska Natives, ensure access to culturally competent 988 crisis center support and to improve integration and support of 988 crisis centers, Tribal nations, and Tribal organizations. The cooperative agreements are also to ensure follow-up care, and facilitate collaboration with Tribal, state and territory health providers, Urban Indian Organizations, law enforcement, and other first responders in a manner that respects Tribal sovereignty; and   
  • $5 million for 988 Lifeline Crisis Center Follow-Up to allow crisis centers to follow-up with individuals who reach out to the 988 Lifeline and enhanced coordination of crisis stabilization, including with 911 and emergency service providers for reduction of unnecessary police engagement and improved connections for high-risk populations.  

Additional grants for suicide prevention and behavioral health care for at-risk communities awarded in recent weeks included:  

  • $1.2 million for Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention, to assist colleges and universities enhance mental health services for all college students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental illness and/or substance use disorders that can lead to academic challenges. The GLS Campus program assists colleges and universities to identify students who are at risk for suicide and suicide attempts, increase protective factors that promote mental health, reduce risk factors for suicide, and ultimately reduce suicide attempts and suicide;  
  • $15 million for Tribal Behavioral Health grants to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior and substance misuse, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native youth, up to and including age 24, by building a healthy network of systems, services and partnerships that impact youth. 

In late August, HHS awarded $1.5 million to the University of Arizona to establish an American Indian and Alaska Native Behavioral Health Center of Excellence to advance the behavioral health equity of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Center of Excellence is expected to develop and disseminate culturally-informed, evidence-based behavioral health information. It also will provide technical assistance and training on issues related to addressing behavioral health disparities in these communities, which have consistently experienced disparities in access to health care services, funding, and resources; quality and quantity of services; treatment outcomes; and health education and prevention services. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org . To learn how to get support for mental health, drug or alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov. If you are ready to locate a treatment facility or provider, you can go directly to FindTreatment.gov or call 800-662-HELP (4357). 

HHS has the press release.

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