Idaho State Department of Education

Idaho Lives Project
Garrett Lee Smith State

The Idaho Lives Project is a collaboration among the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE), Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho (SPAN Idaho) and their partners to reduce suicide in Idaho (ranked 6th) by targeting youth, ages 10-24, with a comprehensive approach including Sources of Strength, Shield of Care, community gatekeeper training and updated assessment and treatment training for health, mental health, and substance abuse professionals. Entire school communities, including all sub-groups of the population, will be included. The project seeks to ensure that suicidal youth are identified and referred to expertly-trained mental health providers. The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline welcomes calls for crisis or referral of suicidal people. In Grant Year (GY) 1, an estimated 5,200 Idahoan’s will be served; GY2:10,330; GY3: 15,423; the total for all GYs, 31,000 people. Evaluations will be conducted for trainings and all other services with regular assessment of data collection to produce reports to the project advisory committee for continuous project improvement corresponding to Project Goal 7. Current national research suggests that involving youth in mental health and suicide prevention activities may be the only way to decrease suicide. As 27% of Idaho population is under age 18 (2011), Goal 1 provides Sources of Strength to 42 high schools over three years. This program teaches students to reach out to adults when peers exhibit suicidal tendencies. 20-25% of these students self-identify as depressed in the Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey; 1 in 14 has made a suicide attempt. Goal 2 provides for comprehensive suicide awareness and prevention training to the communities surrounding the high schools. Goal 4 implements Shield of Care at juvenile justice centers teaching staff to identify and refer youth who exhibit warning signs of suicide as incarcerated adolescents are four times more likely to die by suicide sometime in their lifetime than their non-justice-involved peers. Universities will provide interns to assist high school students and to take prevention information back to campuses aligning with Goal 5. As Idaho Lives Project connects schools, community, health and mental health, Goal 6 provides strategies for belongingness, connectedness and capability to elementary and middle schools. Idaho is a diverse state with very rural and frontier areas, small towns and large cities. Its people generally espouse the rugged individualism and self-reliant attitudes promulgated by their Western ancestors; many of whom access only their primary care physicians for mental health. Research shows that health and mental health providers need current information related to best practice assessment and treatment to address this population. Goal 3 provides for David Rudd,PhD, an expert in this area, to train these professionals. In addition, three Idaho suicide prevention experts will provide support and mentoring for local behavioral health providers related to suicide assessment. All goals align with the goals of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Plan (ISPP) and the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP).