Governor Phil Scott announced that Vermont has received $3.8 million in federal funding for suicide prevention. The five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will support the implementation and evaluation of the state’s comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The announcement coincided with the Sept. 10 observance of World Suicide Prevention Day.
“Deaths due to suicide are tragic and leave a lasting impact on families and loved ones,” said Scott. “This grant will help ensure Vermonters who are struggling have access to the resources they need to help them through their challenges, and, hopefully prevent these unfortunate events.”
“This grant is timely as these are exceedingly stressful times. To any Vermonter who is experiencing crisis or feels helpless: Please know you matter to a lot of people, and help is available,” Governor Scott added.
According to the CDC, suicide is an increasing public health crisis that took more than 48,000 lives in the U.S. in 2018. As of Sept. 4, there have been 72 suicide deaths in Vermont this year. Over the last 10 years, the number of suicides in Vermont has risen, with a current rate 34% higher than that of the U.S. as a whole.
“Vermont is well poised to expand, strengthen and bring to scale our suicide prevention efforts,” said Dept. of Mental Health Commissioner Sarah Squirrell. “Suicide does not only impact those experiencing mental health challenges, and we owe it to each person to have in place the systems to meet them where they are – and in a way that is appropriate to their individual needs and circumstances.”
The Vermont Addressing Suicide Together (VAST) project will use the federal grant to build on existing partnerships and programs to implement and evaluate a data-driven public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The project will bolster collective efforts on the integration between healthcare and mental health, and work to ensure all Vermonters have access to the supports they need.
“Suicide is caused by multiple factors and prevention must go beyond individual behavior change,” said Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Support and coordination are needed from every sector of society that can directly promote resilience and reduce risk factors such as isolation, stress, substance use, and relationship, financial and job issues.”
For more information, resources and data about suicide prevention in Vermont, please visit healthvermont.gov/suicide.