Press Release

Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project Receives $480,000 Grant

Posted 8/2/11

Efforts Led By U.S. Senator Jack Reed, RISAS, and RI Department of Health

WARWICK, Rhode Island (August 2, 2011) - Rhode Island Student Assistance Services (RISAS) today announced that The Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project (RIYSPP) will receive $480,000 to implement suicide prevention programs in select community organizations and public schools throughout the state.

The grant will provide the RIYSPP with necessary resources to identify and refer at-risk youth, and launch a media campaign to help educate adults about warning signs and how best to respond. Currently RIYSPP operates in six communities throughout the state, but will soon provide technical assistance to the Rhode Island National Guard and state’s Veterans ‘ Administration in an effort to reach military personnel and their families.

“In the current grant cycle, we have trained close to 2000 adult and peer gatekeepers in schools and community based organizations to recognize the warning signs of suicide in youth and how to get help,” said Sarah Dinklage, LICSW, Executive Director of RISAS. “We are so pleased to be funded to continue this important prevention and awareness work for another three years.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) is currently leading the legislative effort to reauthorize a youth suicide prevention measure in the Senate, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2011, named for former Senator Gordon Smith’s son who died by suicide. Reed has been joined by a bipartisan group of 12 of his colleagues in the Senate in support of the bill which would make improvements to current law, which authorized this grant, to enhance the ability of states, tribes, colleges, and universities to implement programs aimed at preventing youth suicide.

“Many young people who commit suicide [die by suicide] have a treatable mental illness, but they don’t get the help they need,” said Reed. “This grant will provide critical resources for prevention and outreach efforts in Rhode Island to help reach at-risk youth before it is too late.”

RISAS, in partnership with lead agency, Rhode Island Department of Health, provides gatekeeper training to parents, peers, school staff, and staff of youth serving organizations. Schools and other youth serving organizations will incorporate suicide prevention into their screening, identification and supportive services for youth, develop agency-wide suicide prevention protocols, and provide referrals to supportive services in schools and communities.

Safe Rhode Island, HEALTH’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program has been the state lead for suicide prevention planning for the past eight years, oversees the planning and implementation of project activities.

About RI Student Assistance Services (RISAS)

RISAS currently has a student assistance counselor embedded in 44 secondary schools and serves 6,000 students. For more information, visit http://www.risas.org/ or visit us on Facebook 'RI Student Assistance Services’.

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