The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation & related projects join with faculty in the College of Social Work and the College of Education & Human Ecology.
Since former Surgeon General David Satcher’s 1999 landmark report, Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, states have taken up the call and developed statewide Suicide Prevention Plans. Phase I of the Garrett Lee Smith grant awarded to Ohio focused on the development of the “Mental Health Checkups for Youth initiative—an effort to address the needs of one of the populations at highest risk for suicide. The notion of providing youth with a regular mental health checkup has the potential to destigmatize screening and referral for mental health related concerns, making it a routine activity akin to the physical health checkups youth undergo. At the same time, with the use of evidence-based screening tools during the mental health checkup, it is possible to identify at-risk youth.
In Ohio both the Columbia TeenScreen and Signs of Suicide [SOS] have been used to help expand adolescent suicide prevention efforts through routine mental health screening in schools. The use of the TeenScreen & SOS ensure that such efforts make the best use of resources and staff since both rely upon evidence-based tools for identifying youth at risk. Garrett Lee Smith grant funds have greatly increased the capacity to screen youth in Ohio. The impact on capacity has been remarkable in a relatively short time. In 2004, Ohio was able to focus existing resources to screen 1,500 students in five counties. Today there are 117 screening sites in 21 counties, and in four years the number of youth screened has grown to more than 25,000.
Successful implementation of the Garrett Lee Smith grant awarded to Ohio rests upon the development of a solid public-private partnership. A key partner in this effort includes the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, a private not-for-profit foundation directed by Carolyn Givens. OSPF is funded, in large part, by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and is charged with supporting all Ohio-based suicide prevention efforts. A second key partner in addressing expanded capacity to prevent suicide among youth in Ohio is a team of researchers at The Ohio State University led by Dr. Paul Granello. They bring expertise in the design, delivery and implementation of preventive interventions to the partnership. Together with local community coalitions supported by OSPF, along with key constituents in local school districts and behavioral health agencies, Garrett Lee Smith funding has begun to create an infrastructure for identifying at-risk youth and referring them to care. A second round of funding is important to ensure this effort takes route and flourishes statewide. Moreover, much of the work being done with these funds to address the needs of youth is an invaluable template on which to model similar efforts to address the needs of Ohioans across the lifespan, in particular targeted populations identified as a source of concern to County Coalitions.