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From Classroom to Community: A Team Approach

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Aberdeen, WA

Suicide Prevention Works! – A New Project to Help Washington’s Rural and Underserved Communities

Suicide is a major threat in Washington’s rural areas. That’s why Youth Suicide Prevention Program is proud to announce our partnership with the Washington State Department of Health on a grant from the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)) on a broad state-wide effort
to reduce youth suicide attempts and
deaths in Washington’s underserved
rural communities.

Youth Suicide Prevention Program proudly announces support from the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the Washington State Department of Health, for a 5-year grant to develop a broad state-wide effort to reduce youth suicide attempts and deaths in Washington’s underserved and rural communities.

Suicide Prevention Works! is a system-wide approach to reducing youth suicide attempts, ideation, and deaths by developing a continuum of care from prevention to intervention to follow-up services specifically geared toward rural and isolated communities in Washington State.

While the project will raise awareness across the state, we are particularly focused on the counties of Gray’s Harbor, Pacific, and Clallam, where the youth suicide rate is much higher than the state average.


WA State
Grays Harbor County
Pacific County
Clallam County

Youth Suicide Rates, 2008-2010





Youth Suicide
Rates, 2008-2010





The rural areas in which these three counties encompass recently saw a youth suicide cluster that made them realize they are ill-equipped to address and prevent suicides, although the community is ready to tackle the problem.

Many factors contribute to these high suicide rates, including poor health indicator rankings** and a poor economy. The area also has 7 federally recognized Indian Tribes: Chehalis Confederated Tribes and Quinault Nation in Gray’s Harbor; the Shoalwater Bay Tribe in Pacific; and the Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, and Quileute Tribes in Clallam. While true data on the youth suicide rate among these tribes is scarce, we do know from national data that youth suicide rates are higher among Native Americans.

Access to effective behavioral health care is a problem in these three counties. Residents in these areas lack access to resources and expertise in risk and mental health assessment. Culturally specific, relevant, and affordable mental health resources are also scarce, and mental and physical healthcare providers in the area lack specific training and expertise in suicide prevention.

Collaborators on this project include Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR), ForeFront, True North, Gray’s Harbor County Public Health & Human Services, Behavioral Health Resources (BHR), Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Northwest Porland Area Indian Health Baord (NPAIHB), Gray’s Harbor Community Hospital,

*Data source: Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health statistics, 4/2014
**Data source: County Health Ranking and Roadmaps, which ranks counties on the health indicators of health outcomes, quality of life, poor physical health days, poor mental health days, teen births, uninsured, mental health providers, and primary care providers.


Theresa Mahar
Grays Harbor County Field Coordinator


In August 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded YSPP a three-year grant to pilot a new program "From the Classroom to Community: A Team Approach to Youth Suicide Prevention." This grant (No. 1U79SMO60393-01) enables YSPP to provide training, coordination and services in the target communities, which have a higher rate of suicide and suicide attempts. The University of Washington is conducting the project's evaluation.


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