UNHS secures grant for suicide prevention activities

The Behavioral Health Unit at Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Utah Governors Suicide Prevention Fund, “in support of its suicide prevention efforts.”

In a letter from the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, it was explained that, “Community suicide prevention grants are made possible by donations from Intermountain Healthcare and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” UNHS Behavioral Health Director, Rick Hendy, said having the LDS Church and Intermountain Healthcare providing the funds is a significant thing, and he’s excited to receive them.

In requesting the grant funds, UNHS Behavioral Health offered several goals that would be addressed with the monies. Some of those goals include:

• Improve school-based prevention activities and support activities in suicide prevention month.

• Support Zero Suicide Coalition advocacy work to address current needs.

• Help increase efforts to have non-agency community members trained in SafeTALK and

ASIST Training.

• Improve faith-based representation at the Zero Suicide Coalition.

• Help create a volunteer-based force to assist in suicide prevention month as well as school

and community-based prevention activities.

• Provide means for family or volunteer escorts for children with mental illness who are at

risk of suicide to inpatient treatment.

• Set up prepaid minutes/data phone service to individuals at risk.

• Provide immediate access to tele-psychiatry.

During a Zero Suicide Administrative Luncheon, held at the Blanding Arts & Events Center earlier this month, members of the San Juan Zero Suicide Coalition met to discuss the new grant and the goals listed therein. The coalition also invited other agencies to the luncheon in an effort to enlist their support for the Zero Suicide Coalition’s efforts. The goal was to engage law enforcement, first responders and other agencies to learn about the Zero Suicide mission, to encourage them to send staff to the monthly Zero Suicide meetings and attend training in SafeTALK, ASIST and other trainings that deal with suicide prevention, according to Niki Olsen LCMHC with UNHS Behavioral Health.

Forty people attended the luncheon, including representatives from twelve agencies. Of those completing a questionnaire regarding the Zero Suicide activities and training, a majority agreed they would like additional information and training in suicide prevention, and were interested in attending the coalition’s monthly meetings. They also agreed the luncheon was helpful in presenting information about the resources available in their community, regarding suicide prevention and intervention.

The coalition also discussed its success in addressing the issue of gun safety in helping to prevent suicide. As part of this effort, the coalition has initiated the Means Restriction Project, intended to help secure firearms in a locked gun safe and prevent individuals who might have suicidal tendencies from gaining access to a firearm. Twenty gun safes were made available for free at various mental health and behavioral health agencies, hospitals, clinics and law enforcement agencies throughout San Juan County. These agencies have made these safes available, for free, to families and households where they might be needed to help prevent possible suicide and attempted suicide crises. There are still a few of these gun safes available from local agencies. To qualify for one of these free gun safes, a household must have a gun in the home and someone 25 years of age or older in the home. They also must meet at least one of the following criteria: a recent crisis, someone in the home who has talked about suicide, a behavioral health consultation and a therapist’s recommendation for a safe or, a previous history of suicide attempts by someone in the home. The application requires the name of the agency giving the safe and the signatures of two employees of that agency. The application is available from all participating agencies. Once the completed application is delivered to a participating agency, and approved, a safe can be given to that household.

Behavioral Health and Mental Health professionals from UNHS and San Juan Counseling strongly urge any household with young people living in, or visiting the home, to take the following precautions: 1. Lock Up all guns and not allow children and teens unsupervised, unauthorized firearm access. 2. Limit access to keys and combinations of all gun safes only to the firearm owner. 3. Choose carefully a safe storage device for home-defense firearms with fast access for you only.

They are also trying to secure funding to purchase a number of medical lock boxes to help the same at risk households lock their medications in a secure box to reduce the risk of substance and medication abuse. Similar qualifications would be required for each household to receive a medical lock box, however funding is not currently available. UNHS and the coalition will continue to seek funding for these medical lock boxes when more funds are available.

Originally posted in Medically Speaking: News from Blue Mountain Hospital and UNHS, Volume Six, Number Eleven. Published May 16, 2019