Congratulations to the Headquarters Counseling Center team for obtaining a significant federal grant to fight a troubling problem.
Headquarters was notified last week that it will receive $1.44 million in federal grant money over the next three years to develop youth suicide prevention resources throughout the state. It was one of 23 state and tribal organizations from across the nation to receive a Garret Lee Smith State and Tribal Suicide Prevention Grant this year. The grant will be used to train mental health professionals in youth suicide prevention and expand suicide prevention resources across Kansas.
The grant is a well-deserved recognition of an agency that has served Lawrence well since it was established as a drug-abuse and crisis counseling center in 1969. It maintains a hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day by volunteers who deal with a wide range of issues. Over the years, Headquarters has increased its emphasis on suicide prevention and instituted education programs in local junior highs along with a Phone A Friend line for youngsters who are home alone. Since 2001, it has been the Kansas center for callers to the national suicide prevention hotline.
Suicide is not a small issue in Kansas. Headquarters points out that at least one Kansan dies by suicide every day and that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Kansans 15 to 24 years old. The grant received by Headquarters represents the only statewide resources directed at suicide prevention.
It’s disturbing that so many people and especially so many young people are in such despair that they see suicide as their best option. Headquarters and its long-time director, Marcia Epstein, have an opportunity to extend their suicide prevention efforts across the state with a special focus on preventing youth suicides. We wish them well as they move forward on this important effort.