October 3, 2003
Maine Receives CDC Funds to Implement Suicide Prevention Program
Augusta – The Department of Human Services, Bureau of Health announced today that the state received nearly $300,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue work on the Maine School Community Suicide Prevention Intervention Project. DHS has identified youth suicide as an important public health problem and designed this prevention program to reach students in twelve high schools around the state.
"Youth suicide is a difficult and complex issue,” noted Acting DHS Commissioner Peter E. Walsh. “This grant is an opportunity for our state to address the unique problems that are associated with it and to make some improvement in how we can prevent it.”
The Maine School Community Suicide Prevention Intervention Project is designed to increase the ability of local school districts to prevent youth suicide, intervene during a suicide crisis, and manage the school environment in the event of a suicide. Twenty-seven high schools applied to receiving funding and twelve were selected based upon the strength of their application. Each high school will receive funding, training, and technical support to implement and evaluate an effective suicide prevention program.
Cheryl DiCara, Coordinator of the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program, noted that the grant will help high schools develop better ways to recognize and assist youth who may be suicidal. “We want to get everyone involved in helping to save a life,” said DiCara. “By focusing resources on better training, both for adults and children, this grant helps make that possible.”
The grant will provide one-day training for key persons in the school and community, also known as ‘Gatekeepers,’ who are responsible for assisting youth who need suicide prevention services. There will also be training of selected individuals so that they can conduct suicide prevention awareness sessions for other school staff and community members. While many schools around the state have implemented pieces of these programs, the grant will support the full implementation of a comprehensive program in the twelve schools and document the challenges and benefits of program implementation for other school systems students.
The twelve high schools awarded funds through the grant will reach teen populations from across the state. They include Ashland Community High School, Belfast High School, Calais High School, Hamden Academy, Houlton High School, Jay High School, Lincoln Academy, Morse High School, Mountain Valley High School, Noble High School, Portland High School and Richmond High School. Dr. Richard Spencer, previously the Special Education Director of Buckfield High School, is the Project Coordinator.
CDC’s initial funding help to Maine build infrastructure for the suicide prevention effort began in 2002. Maine is one of only four states, along with Michigan, Virginia, and Washington, receiving CDC funding for this type of prevention program.
For more information about the Maine School Community Suicide Prevention Intervention Project, please contact Cheryl DiCara in the Maine Injury Prevention Program at 207-287-5362 or at TTY (207) 287-8015. Information is also available on the web at www.state.me.us/suicide.