Community Collaboration on Suicide and Overdose Prevention

May 31, 2024

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

In a recent survey, local mental hygiene directors and suicide and substance use prevention coalition members in New York State overwhelmingly said that suicide and overdose are preventable. Respondents also said that individuals with risky substance use would benefit most from suicide prevention services compared to other groups, and they were interested in collaborating on prevention efforts. However, the respondents differed in their awareness of suicide prevention programs.

The purpose of this study was to determine attitudes and perceptions about substance use and opioid overdose; familiarity with substance use and prevention programming; and perceptions of the populations most in need of suicide prevention efforts. The study was carried out via online survey emailed to 58 local mental hygiene directors and 57 suicide and 184 substance use prevention coalition leads in New York State.

The researchers received 140 completed surveys, with a response rate of 47%. The results showed fewer substance use prevention coalition leads thought suicide was an issue (81%) compared to local mental hygiene directors (91.4%) and suicide prevention coalition leads (93.6%). About two-thirds of respondents thought suicide prevention can help combat the opioid crisis. While nearly all coalition leads agreed it is important to prevent suicide and opioid overdose in their county, few believed they had enough funding to do so (19.2% and 22.5% respectively). 

The findings from this study highlight the need for cross-disciplinary training and collaboration between suicide and substance use prevention professionals and coalitions. The results of this study may not apply directly to other settings, as states and localities differ in the organization of behavioral health services and the extent of joint planning and collaboration. However, the study methodology and survey instrument might be useful for other researchers. Although the response rate was appropriate for an online survey, the responses may not be representative of all professionals or counties.

Gallant, K. C., & Harris, B. R. (2024). Community collaboration for suicide and overdose prevention: Attitudes, perceptions, and practices of community-based professionals and county leadership in New York State. Community Mental Health Journal. Advance online publication.