Capital Region Suicide Prevention Program

Posted 10/6/22 (Sent by Matthew Canuteson)


Capital Connect Aims to Increase Access to Suicide Interventions in Historically Underserved Communities

Office of Mental Health, Department of Labor and Department of Health Collaborate to Reduce Suicides Among Capital Region’s At-Risk Populations

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a $5 million multi-agency pilot program aimed at reducing suicide among vulnerable groups in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties. Funded through a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the state Office of Mental Health, Capital Connect will utilize data from state agencies and local partners to identify at-risk groups for focused prevention efforts in specific areas and industries in the four-county region. New York is one of only six states to receive the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“While our state’s mental health resources are among the best in the nation, we still lose far too many New Yorkers to suicide each year,” Governor Hochul said. “With a focused approach to prevention, we can better identify groups and industries most at risk and ensure they have access to resources, and this $5 million grant announced today will help us provide critical support and foster connections among vulnerable individuals throughout the Capital Region.”  

With the five-year grant, the Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center of New York has partnered with the state Department of Health and state Department of Labor to identify groups and industries most at-risk for suicide. In addition, the agencies will work with schools, county mental health, juvenile justice, local hospital emergency departments and the area’s construction industry to help focus efforts in the four-county area, where suicide attempts and death rates exceed the state average. 

The primary goal of Capital Connect is a 10 percent reduction in suicide attempts and deaths among vulnerable groups who have been shown to have disproportionately high rates of suicide attempts. The initiative is part of the Office of Mental Health’s larger goal of reducing mental health disparities in historically underserved communities, including communities of color.

Grant-funded activities in Albany, Troy and Schenectady will increase access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs in underserved communities. These activities will complement ongoing efforts initiated by the Office of Mental Health to reduce disparities, including a suicide prevention pilot program in three Black churches in Albany, Harlem and Rochester.

The success of that program helped secure $1.5 million in funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest source of private suicide prevention research in the nation, and allowed the program to expand to 12 additional Black churches. Also, earlier this year, the Office of Mental Health made $5 million available for suicide prevention programs for underserved populations, including Hispanic/Latino, African American, Asian American, Native American and LGBTQI+ youth and young adults. 

The Office of Mental Health utilized surveillance data from the Department of Health to identify two disproportionally affected populations. These groups include adolescents, who have been increasingly treated at emergency departments following suicide attempts, and working-aged men, whose suicide rate is triple that of the general population. 

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Research with diverse populations and age groups clearly shows that social connection matters when it comes to our mental well-beingAnd while there is no one solution to the complex problem of suicide, by working across sectors and using a number of proven strategies supporting healthy social connection, we can make a difference and save lives.” 

To support adolescents, the Capital Connect program will partner with schools to provide a structured suicide prevention needs assessment, consultation, and a range of training options. The program will also support expanding and refining e-Connect, an innovative program that screens youth on probation and connects them to mental health care treatment and services. 

Likewise, grant-funded activities in the cities of Albany, Troy and Schenectady will increase access to services in communities of color. The pilot program will also help test this model before potentially expanding the approach statewide. 

The program will also provide training targeting the local construction industry and financially distressed and newly unemployed individuals, both of whom are known to be at elevated risk. Partnerships developed through the program will also help the Office of Mental Health advance its goal of reducing healthcare disparities in historically underserved communities.  

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