By Crystal Howerton
Knox County R-1 Schools recently received a $2,599.00 suicide prevention grant from the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Youth Suicide Prevention Project.
According to SPIRIT Project Coordinator Amy Miller, the funds will be implemented in the curriculum for the Reconnecting Youth program, which is designed to help educate at risk teens with depression and suicide. Through a joint effort with the SPIRIT Initiative and Knox County R-1 Schools, Jane Moore was recently hired as the Reconnecting Youths Coordinator. Miller said, "The funds will also be utilized for training of instructors, as this training is very costly."
Knox County is one of seventeen communities that will receive funding aimed at reducing the incidence of youth suicide in Missouri, the Department of Mental Health announced today. The funding is designed to encourage local initiatives to look at factors that may put youth at risk for suicide.
Missouri’s rate of suicide among persons age 15 to 24 is 11.2 per 100,000 persons. This is higher than the national average of 10.5. Missouri overall rate of suicide is also higher than the national average.
"Suicide among our youth is a major health problem impacting families in our state," said Joe Parks, M.D., director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services. "The funding of local initiatives continues the focus of the State Suicide Prevention Plan. Suicide is everybody’s business and we must work together to protect the young people who represent our future."
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the source for the funding, totaling more than $46,000. The funds were awarded locally by the Department of Mental Health’s Youth Suicide Prevention Project through a competitive process. The applicants had to demonstrate a connection with the State Suicide Prevention Plan and strategies to enhance suicide prevention in their local community.
Some of the local projects include: a suicide prevention workshop; suicide prevention training for college residence hall staff; establishing a local interactive website on suicide awareness and prevention; purchasing suicide prevention DVDs for suicide prevention presentation to youth; create and distribute a back to school suicide prevention toolkit; and train instructors to provide presentations to schools on suicide prevention.
"These funds allow local entities to be creative in communicating their care and concern for the young people in their community," said Dottie Mullikin, Director of Prevention for the Department of Mental Health.
Mullikin said another round of prevention funding is underway and the Department is accepting applications through August. "This is a great opportunity for back to school projects that are locally based and build resiliency in kids," Mullikin said.