Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Georgia Youth Suicide Prevention Project
Garrett Lee Smith State

The Georgia Youth Suicide Prevention Project is building upon existing state suicide prevention efforts to extend suicide prevention/early intervention services to at-risk youth and their families. The project blends statewide prevention awareness and gatekeeper training, coalition support, peer leadership development, enhanced gatekeeper training in middle and high schools and advanced training for crisis workers, hospital staff and diverse youth-serving agencies in five target counties.

To build and expand existing statewide capacity, the project is conducting basic youth suicide prevention training among youth-serving agencies, organizations and professional groups, establishing an active youth subcommittee within the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia, and developing a statewide strategy for youth suicide prevention.

The project is working in five target counties to support local suicide prevention coalition development and expand or enhance linkages among a network of mental health, substance abuse, juvenile justice and youth serving agencies and educators. It is working with local communities to implement an enhanced gatekeeper training tested in Cobb County Schools that combines Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) training for adult school staff and the Sources of Strength program to develop peer leaders that reflect a school’s diversity and encourage positive relationships between youth and trusted adults. We are offering training in Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM), Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) for clinical professionals and Working With Those Bereaved by Suicide in the Professional Setting: Postvention Strategies. Trainings are being focused on the five target counties but open to professionals from communities throughout the state.

The project is conducting QPR gatekeeper training for state and local youth-serving agencies and professional organizations to (1) raise awareness and build support for youth suicide prevention; (2) provide support for the school-based enhanced gatekeeper training program; and (3) ensure that those who regularly come into contact with youth (i.e., those in education, child welfare/foster care, juvenile justice, law enforcement, etc.) are properly trained to effectively identify, respond and facilitate linkages for youth who are at-risk for suicide.

We are assisting Emory University in its efforts to collect campus-wide data on at-risk students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. We participated in the state-wide Suicide Prevention College Conference where suicide prevention teams from 29 of Georgia’s institutions of higher education gathered to share information about their suicide prevention efforts and hear recommendations from experts in the field. We are also adding five colleges to our group of programs with Sources of Strength teams.