HHS awards funding to states, tribes and college campuses to help prevent youth suicide, part of Biden-Harris effort to address mental health crisis

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), today awarded $5.9 million to states, tribes and college campuses for suicide prevention programs youth.

Thanks to President Biden, we are finally and seriously saying to young Americans struggling with their mental health: We are listening. The support is here, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. Support is here for young people through their colleges and universities, foster programs, and countless other youth service organizations.

Too many young lives are cut short by suicide, which is sadly one of the leading causes of death for young people. We want them, and anyone having suicidal thoughts, to know there is hope and there is help, said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and leader of SAMHSA. With the right care, anyone affected by or at risk of suicide, mental health and substance use can recover, achieve well-being and thrive.

Last year, HHS launched the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Anyone, including children and teenagers, can call, text or chat 24/7 to get the help they need when having suicidal thoughts or experiencing any other type of mental health emergency. A pilot service for LGBTQI+ youth offers 24/7 access to calls, texts and chats to specially trained crisis counsellors.

Addressing the mental health crisis is a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration and part of President Biden’s unity agenda for the nation. Administration has invested $3.7 billion through the American Rescue Plan and more than $800 million through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in SAMHSA grant programs as part of President Biden’s global efforts to improve access to care mental health, prevent overdoses and save lives. These investments have enabled the expansion of life-saving prevention, treatment and recovery support services in communities across the country, including the transition to 988 Lifeline in July 2022.

Of the total $5.9 million awarded today, $3.6 million was awarded to states and tribes under the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Program. This program supports states and tribes in implementing youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies in schools, higher education institutions, juvenile justice systems, substance use and mental health programs, foster care and other organizations serving children and young people.

The remaining $2.3 million was awarded to college campuses under the GLS Campus Suicide Prevention Program, which improves mental health services for all college students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental illness/ severe emotional disorders and/or substance use disorders which can lead to school failure. The program also helps prevent and reduce suicide, mental disorders and substance use, promotes help-seeking behaviors, and improves the identification and treatment of at-risk college students so they can successfully complete their studies .

HHS also recently announced a funding opportunity notice for LGBTQI + Family Support in support of the Presidents Executive Order Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individuals. This program will provide grants to prevent health and behavioral risks (e.g., suicide, depression, homelessness, drug use, HIV) and to promote the well-being of LGBTQI+ youth within the context of their families/caregivers, cultures and communities by establishing counseling programs and LGBTQI+ family support and training providers on the effective delivery of these evidence-based services. Having just one caring adult can make a significant, and even life-saving, difference in the life of an LGBTQI+ youth.

In 2021, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 4.8 percent of adults ages 18 and older (about 12.3 million people) had serious suicidal thoughts, and among teenagers aged 12 to 17, 12.7% (about 3.3 million people) have had serious thoughts of suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2021, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people aged 1014 to 2534, and more than 107,000 people died from drug overdoses.

If you or someone you know is having trouble or a crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. To learn how to get support for mental health, drug and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.

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