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Caring Connections Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative
Caring Connections Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

In 2014, we partnered with the Oregon Health Authority to apply for a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to prevent suicide among youth in Oregon. The Caring Connections Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative is a structural intervention that capitalizes on a long history of successful public/private collaboration and Oregon’s dynamic health care delivery system to reduce the burden of suicide among youth ages 10-24 by implementing comprehensive suicide prevention and early identification best practices. Our project targets close to 500,000 youth aged 10-24, with special focus on at-risk youth, which includes those that live in seven Oregon counties with a higher than national rate of youth suicide, military families, youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, Native American youth, Latino youth, and sexual minority youth. Our multifaceted approach for comprehensive suicide prevention and early identification includes implementation of evidence-based strategies at both the state level, and intensely at the community level. We are now mobilizing numerous key partners, including the community mental health programs, public health, hospitals and health centers, schools, addictions and mental health clinicians, universities, juvenile justice, veteran’s organizations, Tribes, and the Coordinated Care Organizations in seven counties in the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Central Oregon, Northeastern Oregon, and the Portland area to implement the following strategies:

Gatekeeper Training to increase by 30% the number of individuals in youth serving organizations trained to identify and refer youth at risk by: hosting quarterly Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainings (ASIST) to behavioral health clinicians, and/or Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) or Safe Talk trainings to community members annually; and providing Kognito At Risk for High School Educators and Kognito Step In! Speak Up! LGBTQ module training to 20,000 educators and school staff.

Clinical Training to increase health, mental health and substance abuse clinicians trained to assess, manage and treat youth at risk for suicide by: hosting 11 trainings in Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) for 550 behavioral health clinicians; implementing Kognito At-Risk for Primary Care training for staff at all School-Based Health Centers, and to pediatricians in three counties; and implementing Kognito At-Risk for EDs for Emergency Department staff in all four Portland metro health systems that treat more than 300,000 patients annually.

Improving Continuity of Care for youth discharged from emergency departments and inpatient psychiatric units, and for veterans and military families receiving care in the community; and improved county crisis response plans for full wrap around services.

Our evaluation work is ongoing and data is being submitted to SAMHSA. Once the data for the first two years are returned to Oregon, we will merge the project data with State mortality and hospital data to analyze and disseminate the results of the project.