Connecticut Department of Public Health receives five-year, $3.5M grant from CDC to fund suicide prevention efforts

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has received a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance statewide suicide prevention efforts, Gov. Ned Lamont announced at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford Thursday morning.

The grant, which runs through Aug. 31, 2025, will be a joint effort between DPH, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and UConn Health. The prevention efforts will concentrate on populations that are disproportionately impacted by suicide or attempted suicide, including middle-aged adults, particularly men with mental illness or substance use disorder, and adolescents and young adults (ages 10-24).

State officials at the news conference spoke about the intense mental health toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on Connecticut residents.

With COVID-19 cases increasing and the winter approaching, “I can feel the stress building again,” Lamont said. He described a “witches’ brew” of health concerns, economic distress and social isolation.

“I hear a lot of, ‘I thought we had a light at the end of the COVID tunnel and it looks like it’s receding,’ ” Lamont said. “I hear the economic anxiety every day.”

Dr. Steven Wolf, chairman of emergency medicine at St. Francis, said that social isolation has exacerbated local residents’ experiences of mental illness and substance use disorder.

Seven people under the age of 18 have died by suicide in Connecticut this year, including four since October, according to Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Connecticut averages about eight suicides of children under the age of 18 annually, Vannessa Dorantes, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Children and Families, said. She emphasized that the state must “work together to get that number to zero.”

On average, 403 Connecticut residents died annually of suicide between 2015 and 2019, a 14% increase from the annual average of 351 residents between 2010 and 2014, according to state officials.

“Though Connecticut has one of the lowest suicide rates in the United States, we know even one death is too much,” Delphin-Rittmon said.

Karen Jarmoc, president & CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said that calls to CTSafeConnect, the organization’s domestic violence hotline, rose by 30% due to the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic violence advocacy groups across the state faced increased demand for their services.

“When the pandemic hit in March in our state, understandably there were shut-in orders to keep people safe from a public health standpoint,” Jarmoc said. “From our perspective, it created a precarious situation where victims of domestic violence were shut in with their abusive partner.”

Early in the pandemic, 18 sites across the state that house victims of domestic violence had to send some people to hotels in order to reduce capacity and the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, she said. That resulted in more than $390,000 in unexpected fees to house about 200 adults and 200 children in hotels, from March through

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Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving focuses on safety at crash scenes and prevention of first responder critical incident stress

Anatomy of a Road Crash fact sheet

See link in press release to download CCDD Anatomy of a Road Crash
See link in press release to download CCDD Anatomy of a Road Crash
See link in press release to download CCDD Anatomy of a Road Crash

The Impact of Road Crashes on First Responders & Communities: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Critical Incident Stress fact sheet

See link in press release to download CCDD The Impact of Road Crashes on First Responders & Communities: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Critical Incident Stress
See link in press release to download CCDD The Impact of Road Crashes on First Responders & Communities: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Critical Incident Stress
See link in press release to download CCDD The Impact of Road Crashes on First Responders & Communities: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Critical Incident Stress

‘The Road’ © Kylee Bowman 2020

See link in press release to view ‘The Road’ © Kylee Bowman 2020
See link in press release to view ‘The Road’ © Kylee Bowman 2020
See link in press release to view ‘The Road’ © Kylee Bowman 2020

OTTAWA, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) released Anatomy of a Road Crash and The Impact of Road Crashes on First Responders & Communities: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Critical Incident Stress in acknowledgement of National First Responders Day. These fact sheets were produced by the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD), an initiative of TIRF, Drop It And Drive® (DIAD) and The Co-operators.

Each year, collisions on Canadian roads have devastating consequences for communities across the country, and distracted driving is a contributing factor in one in four fatalities. Concern understandably centres on the victims, families and communities who are directly impacted. But the immediate and long-term consequences for first responders, including police, fire and paramedics, who attend crash scenes is not always recognized.

“Police services and first responders are committed to protecting the lives and safety of everyone on the roads, regardless of circumstances. These professionals willingly place themselves in harm’s way to enforce traffic laws and mitigate loss of life when crashes occur,” says Robyn Robertson, President & CEO, TIRF. “First responders attend far too many crash scenes throughout their career and carry with them the tragic outcomes every day. Their contribution to the CCDD National Action Plan on distracted driving was vital to prevent other Canadian families from experiencing such losses.”

Between 2013 and 2017, there were 8,573 fatal collisions which claimed 9,436 lives and 582,067 injury collisions resulting in serious and minor injuries among 793,684 individuals. These crashes are not just numbers. For all of those involved, including first responders, it is very personal.

“A moment’s inattention while driving is all it takes to become part of tragedy. Having supervised more than 1,000 crashes during my career, I can attest that sitting with a family trying to explain why someone is no longer coming home, or is forever changed because of a bad choice is something you don’t forget,”, says retired Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Mark Andrews. “It is simple, really, distraction kills people. If people accept that, and accept the responsibility that driving safely is everyone’s job, we can stop the tragedies.”

Results from a 2017 national study from the

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COVID-19 a New Opportunity for Suicide Prevention

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses clear threats to mental well-being, but an increase in suicide is not inevitable if appropriate action is taken, one expert says.

“Increases in suicide rates should not be a foregone conclusion, even with the negative effects of the pandemic. If the lessons of suicide prevention research are heeded during and after the pandemic, this potential for increased risk could be substantially mitigated,” writes Christine Moutier, MD, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in an invited communication in JAMA Psychiatry.

“This is a moment in history when suicide prevention must be prioritized as a serious public health concern,” she writes.

Mitigating Suicide Risk

Although evidence from the first 6 months of the pandemic reveal specific effects on suicide risk, real-time data on suicide deaths are not available in most regions of the world. From emerging data from several countries, there is no evidence of increased suicide rates during the pandemic thus far, Moutier notes.

Still, a number of pandemic-related risk factors could increase individual and population suicide risk.

They include deterioration or recurrence of serious mental illness; increased isolation, loneliness, and bereavement; increased use of drugs and alcohol; job loss and other financial stressors; and increases in domestic violence.

There are mitigating strategies for each of these “threats to suicide risk.” The science is “very clear,” Moutier told Medscape Medical News.

“Suicide risk is never a situation of inevitability. It’s dynamic, with multiple forces at play in each individual and in the population. Lives can be saved simply by making people feel more connected to each other, that they are part of a larger community,” she added.

The Political Will

Moutier notes that prior to the pandemic, four countries ― Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Australia ― had fully implemented national suicide prevention plans and had achieved reductions in their national suicide rates. However, in the United States, the suicide rate has been steadily increasing since 1999.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released in August 2020 found that 40% of US adults reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, or increased substance use during COVID-19 and that about 11% reported suicidal ideation in the past month, all increases from prior surveys.

COVID-19 presents a “new and urgent opportunity” to focus political will, federal investments, and the global community on suicide prevention, Moutier writes.

“The political will to address suicide has actually moved in the right direction during COVID, as evidenced by a number of pieces of legislation that have suddenly found their way to passing that we’ve been working on for years,” she said in an interview.

One example, she said, is the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, signed into law earlier this month by President Donald Trump.

As previously reported, under the law, beginning in July 2022, Americans experiencing a mental health crisis will be able to dial 9-8-8 and be connected to the services

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Suicide Prevention Still a Daunting Challenge

Suicide screening protocols implemented in veteran and general populations reduced suicides, but making such screening tools more efficient remains a challenge, according to a pair of studies.

After the Veterans Health Administration implemented the Veterans Affairs Suicide Risk Identification Strategy (Risk ID) in 2018, results were positive in outpatient visits for 3.5% and 0.4% of primary and secondary screenings, respectively, and results were positive in emergency settings for 3.6% and 2.1% of primary and secondary screenings, respectively, reported Nazanin Bahraini, PhD, Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, and colleagues.

Compared to patients in ambulatory care, patients screened in the emergency department were more likely to endorse suicidal ideation with intent (odds ratio 4.55, 95% CI 4.37-4.74, P<0.001), have a specific plan (OR 3.16, 95% CI 3.04-3.29, P<0.001), and report recent suicidal behavior (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.87-2.03, P<0.001) during secondary screening, Bahraini’s group wrote in JAMA Network Open.

Risk ID includes three tiers of screening starting with the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire, followed by the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale Screener and the VHA’s Comprehensive Suicide Risk Evaluation.

“The greater acuity of suicide risk among patients in the ED or [urgent care clinics] cohort compared with those in the [ambulatory care] cohort supports national implementation of evidence-based suicide prevention programs, such as Safety Planning in the ED,” Bahraini and co-authors wrote.

Suicide screening is recommended for all veterans, who have a 21% higher risk of dying by suicide than the general population.

However, close to two-thirds of veterans who die by suicide do not seek healthcare from the VA, indicating that many suicides will still be missed in VA screening initiatives, noted Roy H. Perlis, MD, MSc, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Stephan D. Fihn, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington in Seattle, in an accompanying editorial.

“Although the VA is not representative of general clinical practice, these numbers provide a useful reference for estimating the yield of routine screening in these settings,” Perlis and Fihn wrote.

Another study published in JAMA Network Open, from the Kaiser Permanente system in California and Washington, examined the practicality of a risk-based alert system to identify patients who may attempt suicide.

The tool was developed from electronic health records and included characteristics such as depression symptoms, mental health visits, and past suicide attempts to estimate suicide risk. When patients entered a certain adjustable risk threshold, the tool would deploy an alert to physicians.

Using the 95th percentile threshold, the tool yielded 162 daily alerts and demonstrated a positive predictive value of 6.4%. (That works out to a number-needed-to-screen of 17 to prevent one suicide attempt, Perlis and Fihn calculated.) In contrast, the system sent out four alerts per day at the 99.5th risk percentile.

“While this provides useful estimates for planning, many key effectiveness, clinical, operational, ethical and legal questions remain,” the study’s lead author Andrea H. Kline-Simon, MS, of Kaiser’s research division in Oakland, California, told MedPage Today

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Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Celebrates National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661) Becoming Law

Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Celebrates National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661) Becoming Law

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — On Saturday, October 17, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661), legislation that will support the implementation of the future 9-8-8 crisis hotline, was signed into law. Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released the following statement:

“In July, the Federal Communications Commission announced that 9-8-8 would be the new universal hotline number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 2022. This easy-to-remember number will increase public access to mental health and suicide prevention crisis resources, encourage help-seeking for individuals in need, and is a crucial entry point for establishing a continuum of crisis care.

“This is why AFSP applauds the U.S. Congress for prioritizing suicide prevention through unanimous passage of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. This historic legislation, now law, will bring our mental health crisis response system into the 21st century. We are encouraged by the federal government’s dedication to preventing this leading cause of death and showing all Americans that mental health is just as important as physical health.

“It should be noted however that the United States’ mental health crisis response system is woefully underfunded and undervalued. It is crucial that local crisis call centers are adequately equipped to respond to what we expect will be an increased call volume and provide effective crisis services to those in need when 9-8-8 is made available in July 2022.

“We would like to especially thank the legislation’s sponsors in the U.S. Senate, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jack Reed (D-RI), and the U.S. House, Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), as well as their staff. We would also like to thank the Committee members, Congressional leadership, and staff who have supported these efforts on Capitol Hill.

“AFSP’s nearly 30,000 volunteer Field Advocates engaged their members of Congress for years in support of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. They made their voices heard through thousands of letters, phone calls, and emails. They have pushed the suicide prevention movement forward, and their efforts will save lives.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 9-8-8 number will be active nationwide by July 2022. Until that point, those in crisis should continue to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For guidelines on how to report safely on suicide:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C.

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Flu Prevention in Nursing Homes

The world’s attention is now focused on COVID-19, and rightly so, but infectious disease experts have been warning for months that, come fall and winter, another deadly infection will rear its head as well: influenza. The flu is especially dangerous to the elderly, which is why elder care facilities like assisted living centers and nursing homes have been practicing diligent flu protection since long before anyone had heard of the coronavirus.

(Getty Images)

Such prevention tactics are critical because the numbers are daunting. Somewhere between 12,000 and 79,000 people die of the flu each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Last year, that number was at least 24,000. Tens of millions of people contract the flu between October and May, the traditional flu season, and last year more than 400,000 individuals were hospitalized because of flu.

The risk of severe illness and death goes up with age, as bodies grow frailer and disease-fighting immune systems grow weaker. A CDC study from 2019 found that about 90% of influenza-related deaths and up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations were in people aged 65 years and older. And those 85 years old and older are two to six times more likely to be hospitalized and die from the flu than adults aged 65 to 74 years.

Elder care facilities therefore must take infection protection seriously – and they always have. “Historically, with flu prevention and contingency planning for early recognitions of an outbreak, we’ve had that forever,” says Dr. Elaine Healy, medical director and vice president of medical affairs at United Hebrew in New Rochelle, a senior living campus in Westchester County, New York.

Such planning “centers around staff training in infection prevention, hygiene, equipment sterilization, identifying sick patients quickly and putting them in isolation,” adds John Mastronardi, executive director of The Nathaniel Witherell, a short-term rehab and skilled nursing care center in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The CDC recommends a five-pronged approach to flu control:

  • Vaccination.
  • Surveillance and testing.
  • Infection prevention and control.
  • Treatment.
  • Antiviral chemoprophylaxis.


If possible, all residents should receive the influenza vaccine every year, the CDC says. In most flu seasons, the vaccine becomes available to long-term care facilities beginning in September, and should be offered by the end of October, though later vaccination is still warranted if that deadline is missed. If a new patient or resident enters the facility after the vaccination program has ended, he or she should be counselled on vaccination and offered the vaccine as soon as possible.

All health care providers and staff also should be vaccinated annually, the CDC says. “We campaign every year for vaccinations for staff and family members,” says Healy, who reports a response rate of over 95% for her residents and close to 90% for staff.

Surveillance and Testing

If a flu outbreak occurs in the community, staff are encouraged to check on residents often to look for flu symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and body aches. The CDC also notes that older adults and

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Drug Abuse Prevention

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A blog displaying in a beginning way the massive significance of the study of Aesthetic Realism for the profession of Medicine, and for the planet, in the fields of health-related ethics, economics and analysis. Please note that all applicants require to show that they have accomplished productive academic study within the past five years.…

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