White House Names NIMH a “Champion of Change” for its Suicide Prevention Efforts
• Science Update
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was named by the White House as a “Champion of Change” on August 25, 2011, for its efforts in supporting research on suicide prevention. Jane Pearson, Ph.D., and Kevin Quinn, Ph.D., of NIMH accepted the award at a ceremony and roundtable event at the White House, where they joined White House policy officials and others for a discussion of suicide prevention best practices. In addition to NIMH, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC); Suicide Prevention Action Network; SAVE Foundation; the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; Blue Star Families; the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); the Creative Coalition; and the Trevor Project, all of whom are dedicated to preventing suicide, were honored.
The White House Champions of Change initiative celebrates individuals and organizations from all walks of life who are making an impact in communities and helping the country rise to the challenges of the 21st century.
The roundtable discussion was moderated by Pamela J. Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); Andrea Palm, Senior Advisor for Health at the White House Domestic Policy Council; and Deborah Temkin, Research and Policy Coordinator for Bullying Prevention Initiatives at the Department of Education. The discussion focused on numerous issues important to suicide prevention including:
- Media influences: how the media—including social media—has encouraged people to show their support of individuals in crisis.
- Best practices: how the SPRC, which acts as a clearinghouse of evidence-based information related to suicide prevention, helps spread the word. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also continues to improve counseling services by using best practices.
- Working Together: how each organization learns from the others. For instance, NIMH funds research associated with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, including research on the training of crisis counselors in an effort to improve counselors’ assessment and referral skills.
- Prioritizing Next Steps: including identifying technological opportunities to help reduce suicide,(e.g., developing and testing phone apps for helping someone in crisis).
- Early intervention: all agreed that for children, early intervention programs aimed at decreasing aggression and improving problem-solving skills are vital to ensuring children do not become bullies or reach a suicidal crisis.
NIMH is deeply honored to be identified as a Champion of Change. If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline that seamlessly connects anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress with their nearest crisis center.