Michigan organizations contribute $575,000 to help health care providers fight suicide

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Five Michigan organizations came together to make $575,000 available for health care providers to develop solutions to suicide, especially among populations experiencing health disparities.

The organizations released a request for proposal to health care clinicians and behavioral health specialists to develop projects to decrease the rate of suicide attempts and deaths by identifying children and/or adults who may be at risk, as well as addressing their needs for appropriate medical, social and behavioral services.

The funding is available through a collaboration between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.

“Suicide is a mental health crisis in our country, as it’s increased by 35% over the past 11 years,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of strategy, government and public affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased mental health challenges for many, including suicidal ideations. We look forward to supporting innovative proposals that will decrease the rate of suicide attempts and deaths, and help connect those in need with appropriate medical, social and behavioral health services.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, there were a total of 7,133 deaths by suicide in Michigan between 2014 to 2018, or an average of nearly 150 individuals per month.

“At the Health Fund, we know that no single organization can solve a complex challenge such as suicide,” said Becky Cienki, director of behavioral health at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. “That’s why we’re proud to partner with other funders to bring evidence-based prevention approaches to Michigan and, ultimately, help more people access critical life-saving care.”

This funding opportunity will support up to 12 Michigan-based organizations to implement sustainable, evidence-based suicide prevention practices with grant amounts ranging from $50,000 to a maximum of $75,000. Programs that focus on population groups experiencing health disparities due to income, age, gender identity and ethnic or racial characteristics are especially encouraged.

“The pandemic has created even greater obstacles for those struggling with mental health issues — something we have been paying close attention to at The Children’s Foundation considering mental health is one of our key focus areas,” said Lawrence Burns, president and CEO of The Children’s Foundation. “This collaboration is a great example of how to have an even greater impact on the community so we may provide resources and awareness of suicide prevention.”

Data from the Michigan Violent Death Reporting System from 2014-17 shows that at every age, men were more likely than women to die by suicide. The Michigan age-adjusted suicide rate was 13, but the rates vary by race, ranging from 3.9 for Asian Americans to 24.8 for Native Americans.

Nonprofit organizations that provide direct treatment services are eligible to apply. The initiative solicits proposals from organizations serving Michigan’s health-disparate populations, including:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers and look-alikes
  • Rural health centers
  • Tribal health centers
  • Other safety net health clinics with capacity to bill third-party payers
  • School-based and school-linked health centers with high need
  • Veterans Administration health care clinics

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