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The North Carolina Division of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Youth Suicide Prevention Program works in collaboration with The North Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force to address youth suicide prevention in North Carolina. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10-24 making it a serious public health issue.

The North Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force, led by the Division of Public Health's Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, developed Saving Tomorrows Today: North Carolina's Plan to Prevent Youth Suicide. The plan was published in October 2004 and offers comprehensive strategies for preventing suicides of youth between 10 and 24 years of age.

Core Task Force representatives include staff from the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and the Children and Youth Branch in the Division of Public Health, Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP), Division of Mental Health, Department of Administration's Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office, the Mental Health Association in North Carolina, the Attorney General's Child Victim Services, the Department of Public Instruction's Healthy Schools program and School Nurse services and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Social Work. Consultation is frequently received from LivingWorks USA (suicide intervention skills training program), Holly Hill Hospital, Mental Health in Schools Project and REAL Crisis Center (the only state certified and networked provider for the national suicide NATIONAL LIFELINE).

The youth suicide prevention plan prioritizes six goals for the state:

  • Promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem that is preventable.
  • Develop and implement community-based suicide prevention programs.
  • Promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means of self harm.
  • Implement training for recognition of at-risk behavior and delivery of effective treatment.
  • Improve access to and community linkages with mental and substance abuse services.
  • Improve and expand surveillance systems.

The task force responds to community and agency requests for education/awareness presentations, gatekeeper training, data, program networking and resource questions.

In September 2008, the North Carolina Division of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch was awarded the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Grant to address youth suicide prevention in the state. The purpose of this grant is to address the public health problem of youth suicide among 10-24 year olds in North Carolina. The grant consists of two main activities.

  1. Communications Campaign - consists of a website and promotional items such as, brochures, wallet cards, t-shirts, jump drives, wrist bands, pens, pencils, and folders with the "It's OK 2 Ask" logo. The website was developed from youth focus groups with the objective to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage help-seeking behavior.
  2. Train individuals in gate keeper evidence-based suicide prevention/intervention curricula:
    • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) - a skills-building intervention that prepares individuals to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide and provide assistance.
    • safeTALK - a training that prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.
    • Lifelines Curriculum - a school-based suicide prevention curriculum for middle and high school students designed to prepare students to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide. Between 2009 and 2010, 109 school staff members across the state were trained in Lifelines.
    • Lifelines Postvention - a training that prepares schools to deal with the aftermath of death by suicide.

People that have been trained in these curricula can be found under the list of resources in your county.

For more information about youth suicide prevention please contact:
Jane A. Miller