SHAHEEN ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $1.4 MILLION FOR NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS NEW HAMPSHIRE

Funding will help prevent suicides in high-risk populations

September 15, 2009

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced today that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire will receive $1,497,015 in funding over three years for Connect, a nationally-recognized program that provides suicide prevention training and support services to communities throughout the state. 

"It is critical that we provide the support and resources necessary to reduce the occurrence of suicide in New Hampshire communities," said Shaheen.  "With proper training, counselors are able to assist individuals in a time of need, particularly our veterans and active-duty military personnel who are twice more likely to commit suicide than the general population."

"This proposal is built on the belief that it takes a community to prevent suicide," said Michael J. Cohen, executive director of NAMI New Hampshire.  "Through this grant NAMI NH will lead public and private providers and community coalitions in increasing public awareness of suicide prevention and improving access to mental health care.  Grant funds will be used to train communities, law enforcement, faith leaders, military and other key stakeholders in implementing NAMI NH's national best practice, the Connect suicide prevention program. The grant will also work closely with the Suicide Prevention Council to help implement the state suicide prevention plan."

With this funding, the Connect program will train 600 people annually for each of the next three years, to work with target populations to reduce the risk of suicide. Target groups will include veterans and National Guard members; gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender populations; youth in foster care; and those with substance abuse addictions.

In July, Senator Shaheen introduced a suicide prevention amendment that has been incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010. The amendment requires that the Department of Defense's Office for Reintegration Programs establish a program to provide National Guard members and Reservists, their families, and their communities with training in suicide prevention and counseling in response to suicide.  It also requires the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to work with the National Guard and Reserves to develop suicide prevention and community response programs.

In May, Senator Shaheen wrote to the Center for Mental Health Services in support of this funding application for NAMI.  The text of Shaheen's letter follows:

May 1, 2009

Ms. A Kathryn Power M. Ed.

Director

Center for Mental Health Services

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

United States Department of Health and Human Services

1 Choke Cherry Road
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Dear Ms. Power,

I am writing to express my strong support for the Youth Suicide Prevention Grant application submitted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire to fund Connect, a nationally-recognized program that increases the ability of individuals and communities to prevent suicidal events.

NAMI NH has a record of connecting New Hampshire individuals with the training they need to recognize mental illness, substance abuse and other risk factors that lead to suicidal behavior.  Recently, the organization has provided awareness and skill based suicide prevention training to over 4,000 New Hampshire residents, including 250 New Hampshire State Troopers, 200 National Guard officers and staff, 150 school guidance counselors and 85 faith leaders.  In New Hampshire's northern Coos County, which has the state's highest rates of substance abuse and suicide, NAMI NH recently trained hundreds of individuals in early recognition and prevention practices in partnership with North County community organizations. 

With this funding, the Connect program will train 600 people annually, a total of 1,800 over three years, to work with target populations to reduce the risk of suicide.  These target groups will include veterans and National Guard, GLBT, youth in foster care and those with substance abuse problems, all of whom have higher risk.  The grant will allow for additional trainings in Coos County and in New Hampshire's Seacoast Area, where highly publicized deaths and attempts have increased risk to the community.

Medical professionals have come to recognize suicide as largely preventable when trained individuals are present in communities to recognize early warning signs and to take action on behalf of those at risk.  However, active duty military and veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide as individuals in the general populations and New Hampshire suffers from a higher suicide rate than the national average.  It is the 10th leading cause of death across all age groups in the state.  New Hampshire's National Guard officers, school nurses, guidance counselors and health providers need additional resources to reduce this risk, save lives and keep families intact.  That is the promise of the Connect program.

I fully support NAMI New Hampshire's application and urge your serious consideration of this worthy project.  If you have any questions, please contact my Grants Coordinator, Mike Firestone, at (202) 224-6299.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

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