Suicide-Prevention Collaboration Reaches Statewide

A UNC initiative created to assist people in all 100 North Carolina counties is working with the University’s Suicide Prevention Institute to reduce suicides and improve wellbeing.

Carolina Across 100, part of the the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government, will partner with the Suicide Prevention Institute during the next year to develop suicide prevention strategies. The organizations will focus on preventing suicidal ideation and improve resources available for mental and behavioral health across the state.

“Our goal with this project is to help North Carolina communities get more involved in prevention efforts,” Anita Brown-Graham ’91 (JD), the Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor of public law and government, said in an announcement about the partnership.

The two institutions will lead a cohort of community partners who are focused on suicide prevention strategies. Participants will work with local organizations, including school systems, health-care providers, government agencies and faith-based groups to identify target populations and the needs of communities.

Communities may apply between June 13 and July 28 to participate in the initiative. Applications are available on the Carolina Across 100 website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina reported 1,448 suicide deaths in 2021, making suicide the second leading cause of death statewide among youth ages 10 to 18. People who survive suicide attempts can have serious injuries and require extensive physical and mental care, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“Suicide is destroying families across our state,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “By partnering with local communities and listening to one another, we are finding solutions and collaborating to develop answers together.”

The Suicide Prevention Institute was created in September 2022 with a $25 million gift from William “Bill” Starling ’75 and his wife, Dana. The Starlings made the commitment to the institute following the suicides of their sons Tyler and Gregory. The institute, which is directed by Patrick Sullivan, the Yeargen Distinguished Professor of psychiatry and genetics and a world-renowned expert in psychiatric causation, aims to improve outcomes for patients dealing with mental illness and suicide ideation.

The institute doesn’t provide treatment but instead focuses on outreach and community engagement to connect individuals and communities in a collective effort of suicide prevention.

“The problem is urgent, and these partnerships offer a fast and effective way to make a difference,” Sullivan said.

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