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Center for Health Policy Researchers To Evaluate Effectiveness of Suicide Prevention Project

Ed Baker

Susan EspSusan Esp, researcher for the Center for Health Policy and assistant professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Health, and Ed Baker, director of the Center for Health Policy and professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Health, are involved with the 1.3 million dollar Idaho Lives Project, a collaboration among the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE), Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho (SPAN Idaho) and their partners: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act grant. The collaborative project strives to reduce suicide in Idaho, which has the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation, by targeting youth, ages 10-24, with a comprehensive approach for training mental health care providers and others who come in contact with this age group. This approach covers Sources of Strength, Shield of Care, community gatekeeper training and updated assessment and treatment training for health, mental health, and substance abuse professionals. Esp will serve as the primary investigator with Baker as co-primary investigator to evaluate The Idaho Lives Project.

The Idaho Lives Project seeks to ensure that suicidal youth are identified and referred to expertly-trained mental health providers. The Idaho Lives Project has four overlapping programs, described below.

Sources of Strength, a nationally registered evidence-based prevention program for youth, will be provided to 42 high schools over three years through the School Communities Program. Because students in crisis must have trained, trusted adults to turn to, the program will also train school staff and communities to identify, assist and refer those at risk.

The Health Professionals Program is based on the knowledge that trained adults must be able to refer youth and their parents to well-trained health professionals. This program brings expert, evidence-based suicide prevention and assessment training to behavioral health and primary care professionals throughout Idaho. In addition, three Idaho suicide prevention experts will provide support and mentoring for local behavioral health providers related to suicide assessment.

The Young Adult Program addresses youth age 18 to 24 through outreach and training by providing suicide prevention training to young adult-serving agencies and groups, including college and university staff and students. It reaches out to businesses serving young adults with materials from the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline with targeted behavioral health messages.

The Juvenile Justice Program provides Shield of Care, an evidence-based program, to provide suicide prevention training to juvenile justice facilities throughout the state. The program provides ongoing technical assistance to these facilities and to participants of all programs.