Delaware Dept of Services for Children Youth and Their Families

Delaware State Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Project
Garrett Lee Smith State

With this statewide project, Delaware will expand its capacity for crisis intervention and response, increase knowledge and awareness of suicide and prevention among secondary school teachers, administrators and students and their parents and train adults who work with youth in the community about suicide risk and about how to help when they learn about a potential youth suicide. Delaware will rigorously evaluate project strategies and sustain key project activities.

This federally-funded-funded project will allow Delaware to address a critical service gap across our state. Since data shows middle schools have virtually no suicide prevention education but middle school students are at high risk, the primary population of focus for this project is our state middle school student population. Suicide prevention will be provided to at least 6,250 students across the states middle schools (about 2,000 per year). Research shows the middle school population is a critical audience for suicide prevention education. The middle schools population reflects the Delaware population demographics of our families and community.

The project strategy is to increase the state systems capacity for crisis response, then directly reach middle school students across the state, using an Lifelines, an evidence-based intervention, to provide essential information about suicide risk, prevention and what to do if the student learns of a potential suicide plan. Lifelines will be used for educators and parents in the schools. In addition, outreach to adults who work with youth in Delaware communities statewide will be provided through the Mental Health Association of Delaware and Family Voices, educating adults (including parents, medical practice and community juvenile justice staff) in suicide prevention using the Lifelines or safeTALK curriculum to strengthen our state capacity to respond across our entire community. Finally, a communications campaign supported by all project partners and publicized through Family Voices, Delaware only family-run organization and provider of the states Family-to-Family Health Information Center, will help us increase awareness of families statewide about suicide prevention, with particular outreach and attention to military families.

Delaware is ready for rapid implementation to achieve these Goals and Objectives:

  1. Increase the crisis response capacity of Delaware’s child behavioral healthcare system
  2. Increase knowledge and awareness of suicide prevention statewide via communications campaign, with suicide prevention education primarily for middle school students, parents and educators, using Lifelines and SafeTalk
  3. Train adults who work with youth in delaware in youth suicide prevention
  4. Rigorously evaluate, with partner University of Delaware, the effectiveness of these strategies to inform data-driven decision-making at the state policy and operations levels
  5. Sustain core project activities after the expiration of the federal grant