West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention (ASPEN)
Garrett Lee Smith State
West Virginia

West Virginia’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) in partnership with Regional Youth Services Centers, Educational Institutions and Premier Hospital Health Systems seeks to reduce the rate of youth suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicide deaths in WV through the development and implementation of a collaborative and coordinated statewide prevention and intervention strategy that is integrated into the existing public and private service delivery system. The State of West Virginia will build upon the success of the Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention (ASPEN) project and use committed and collaborative partnerships to work across a wide array of agencies and disciplines in order to make suicide prevention a core priority. The project is in response to alarming data, which include: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 24. WV also has the nation’s highest rate of drug deaths, more than 9 out of 10, coming from prescription drugs with drug overdoses now killing more West Virginians than car accidents. About 19% of our state’s children have experienced abuse or neglect, nearly double the nationwide rate of just over 10%. Too many WV youth, 13%, have seriously considered attempting suicide in the last 12 months. Almost 10% actually made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during that year. Alarmingly, more than 5% report they had attempted suicide one or more times in the last year, and almost 2% made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse. Specifically, the project will: Increase access and availability of services in existing behavioral health centers by utilizing telehealth and satellite offices; provide for a referral system of preferential appointments for youth, subpopulations and their families; assist in acquiring health insurance; incorporate comprehensive evidence-based protective measures that expand universal prevention messages of hope and help at the regional level; improve identification, referral and engagement interventions for youth and transitioning youth aged 10-24 in increasing the number of youth and youth-serving agencies implementing screening and gatekeeper trainings; reduce the number of completed suicides and attempt survivors providing for protective, caring follow-up services for attempt survivors and their families; and build the capacity of organizations serving vulnerable sub-populations to effectively deliver coordinated care. The sub-populations recognized include: a) Lesbian Gay, Bi- Sexual, Transgendered and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth; b) Veterans; c) Military families; d) juvenile services; e) survivors; f) attempt survivors; g) youth with mental health and substance abuse issues; and h) individuals with disabilities. WV is committed to local systems of care that offer the right services, at the right place and at the right time for WV Youth and families. Service provision must be close to home with public and private organizations working together closely across systems to align and coordinate support to overcome significant barriers that youth and their families face in accessing and engaging help when experiencing crisis.