First-in-the-Nation Suicide Prevention Campaign Set to Launch

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York will be the first state in the nation to launch an innovative pilot program aimed at reducing new suicide attempts among individuals who had previously attempted suicide. Funding through the $3.5 million federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant, the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program reframes how suicide attempts are examined in order to develop individualized prevention strategies.

In addition to the pilot program, the New York State Office of Mental Health is launching a new social media campaign to raise awareness of prevention, services and support systems in an attempt to connect people to the resources they need. The campaign will also provide insights on how to recognize when someone might be experiencing a suicidal crisis and the steps you can take to help them through their crisis.

“Two high-profile suicides this week put mental illness front and center, but while those names were the ones in the press, every day there are thousands of New Yorkers who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and we must do everything we can to support them,” Governor Cuomo said. “Depression does not discriminate. It affects every part of society and people from all walks of life. This innovative pilot program tailors treatments to the specific needs of individuals and helps bolster our effects to get people the support they need and keep New Yorkers safe.”

Developed in Switzerland, the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program is based on the belief that it is more helpful to view suicide as an action taken in order to reach a goal, rather than simply a symptom of mental illness. Only by understanding the very individualized path to a suicide attempt can one develop effective prevention strategies. Clinicians at Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse have already received training on this new method and are prepared to begin implementation.

The program takes place over three sessions. During the first session, patients are video-recorded telling his or her story of how they came to harm themselves. In the second session, the video recording is viewed together by the ASSIP-trained therapist and patient. The third session is devoted to developing safety planning strategies for avoiding future suicidal behavior. This information is summarized for the patient, family members upon the patient’s request, and other treating providers, serving as a template for reducing future risk in the community. Therapists also send “caring contact” letters for several months after the in-person sessions conclude.

‘The initial studies of ASSIP have been very promising, and ASSIP patients saw the risk of repeat suicide attempts reduced greatly,” shared Ann Sullivan, New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner. ” OMH and our Office of Suicide Prevention have implemented a number of effective and successful programs, and are working with advocates and stakeholders to prevent suicide. ASIP will provide another effective tool in our mission.”

Source: Governor Cuomo Announces First-in-the-Nation Suicide Prevention Program, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo – June 8, 2018