Joining New York State’s Suicide Prevention Council

The Sophie Fund is honored to become a new member in 2023 of the New York State Suicide Prevention Council.

Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund, and Jay Carruthers, director of the Suicide Prevention Center of New York

The council was established in 2016 to assist the New York State Office of Mental Health “to raise awareness, reduce suicide attempts and deaths, and promote wellness among New Yorkers.” The council formed four work groups to address specific areas, including the Zero Suicide Model in health and behavioral health care, communities and coalitions, school and youth initiatives, and data and surveillance. The Sophie Fund serves on the Zero Suicide work group.

Council membership includes experts (researchers, clinicians, and state and community agencies), individuals and family members with lived experience (attempt and loss survivors), and advocacy groups and organizations.

The recent fall meeting, in Albany on November 9, featured report-outs from the work groups. Jay Carruthers, director of OMH’s Suicide Prevention Center, announced the award of a major new federal grant to the center for advancing the Zero Suicide Model across New York State. The $3.5 million grant, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), runs through 2028. Zero Suicide is a set of strategies and tools for suicide prevention in healthcare and behavioral health systems.

New York State Suicide Prevention Council meeting November 9, 2023

The SAMHSA grant will support the Zero Suicide framework to improve suicide care and behavioral health services generally in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC). Currently there are 13 CCBHCs in New York State, and 26 additional clinics will open by 2025.

The vision of the grant is to reduce suicide attempts and deaths among adults ages 18 and older and establish CCBHCs as the “backbone” of New York’s Zero Suicide infrastructure using a “center of excellence” model.

Carruthers also announced a $2 million, 5-year SAMHSA grant to address the “youth mental health crisis.” The goal is to expand access to mental health services for youth aged 10-21 years by increasing the number of pediatric/family practices offering the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM).

The model integrates behavioral health professionals into general medical practices to improve patient outcomes and reduce stigma related to mental health. It also increases the confidence and competence of physical health providers in treating mental health disorders.

The grant will support CoCM implementation in high needs practices that would otherwise lack resources, and provide CoCM to complex youth patients with co-existing chronic disease, trauma history, suicidal ideation or substance use disorders.