Suicide prevention services in Arizona have received $2.4 million in federal emergency grants from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, EMPACT-Suicide Prevention Center in Tempe and the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe in Southern Arizona each received grants of $800,000 on July 20, according to a press release.
AHCCCS will utilize the funds over a 18-month period to target suicide prevention and domestic violence resources in Pima County, which has experienced a noted increase in suicides since March 15, State Suicide Prevention Specialist Kelli Donley Williams said.
“It’s a huge win for Arizona,” Williams said of the federal funds. “I’ve worked in suicide prevention for the state of Arizona since 2014 — this is the largest grant we’ve been awarded in that time period.”
The funds will be aimed at increasing access to behavioral health services and removing the stigma surrounding suicide prevention — both of which have been shown to decrease the rate of suicide in a community, according to Williams.
In an effort to decrease incidents of both suicide and domestic violence in Pima County, providers will screen patients for symptoms of either affliction in hospitals and psychiatric settings.
Williams said there was currently no data to support the notion that the coronavirus pandemic has played a direct role in the increased rate of suicides in Pima County. She said rates of suicide have actually decreased both statewide and nationally during the health crisis.
“That’s not unexpected,” Williams added. “Research shows that during national crises, suicides often decrease, and then, unfortunately, increase after the crises.
“So what we’re trying to do is put all of the tools and resources we can into place so when normal daily activities increase after the COVID pandemic is more under control … individuals who are maybe suicidal know how to get help.”