Grants to Prevent Suicide
Elizabeth Pezzullo, The Free Lance-Star, Friday, October 18, 2002
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The Virginia Department of Health has received a little help to offset drastic budget cuts bleeding state agencies.
Earlier this month, the department’s Center for Injury and Violence Prevention received a $967,000 award to help prevent suicide. The grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used during the next three years.
“The money is particularly welcome now,” said James Vetter, director of the state’s suicide and youth violence prevention program. “Especially given the fact that overall funds are very tight within the state.”
The Fredericksburg-area has been rocked by a number of suicides this year, some of them in public settings.
Suicide and its apparent cause—depression—have long been shrouded in mystery because of the stigma attached to getting help. Efforts are underway statewide and locally to bring suicide and depression out of the darkness.
Vetter said the bulk of the grant money will be used to build on the success of the agency’s already existing youth suicide prevention program. That plan includes better training for suicide prevention hotline workers throughout the state.
Middle and high school teachers and staff will also get additional training in watching for the warning signs of suicide.
“We’re providing the training so at-risk youth can be referred for additional help,” Vetter said.
He said this type of training was offered a year ago to schools throughout the state.
“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
The training would be at no cost to the schools. “It’s important for all schools to know that the training will soon become available,” he said.
Vetter said the money also will be used to work with the elderly, who make up a large percentage of suicide victims, and to launch a suicide prevention public awareness campaign.
Vetter said the training component of the program could start by January.
In 2000, 770 people in Virginia died by suicide. It’s the second leading cause of death in the state for people between the ages of 10 and 35, and among residents over 65, it’s more than double that of all other age groups.
“We are extremely pleased to receive this,” Vetter said. “This gives us the ability to expand our efforts to reach across the state to prevent the tragedy of death from suicide.”
For more information on Virginia’s suicide prevention programs and resources, logon to www.preventsuicideva.org.
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