Man in therapy

Stopping Suicide: Blue Cross Partnering to Fund Prevention Efforts

In the United States, we lose nearly 45,000 people to suicide every year. It’s the 10th-leading cause of death among all age groups, rising to the 2nd-leading cause of death for those ages 15-24.

People of all ages, genders and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide. It steals more years of life than any other cause except heart disease and cancer and leaves a trail of questions and grief in its wake. While there is no foolproof way to identify someone thinking of suicide, researchers and scientists are looking at promising treatments and interventions.

Family and friends are often a first line of defense and can play an important role in recognizing a loved one in crisis. Primary care providers are also well-positioned to intervene when their patients express that they’re struggling.

To help Michigan-based, non-profit health care providers tackle this important issue, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is joining forces with the BCBSM Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation and the Children’s Foundation to provide funding for up to 12 Michigan-based organizations to implement suicide-prevention programming that is evidence-based and sustainable.

“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.”

A total of $575,000 will be made available to health care providers to develop projects aimed at decreasing the rate of suicide attempts and deaths by identifying those at risk and addressing existing needs for services. Projects that focus on populations experiencing health disparities due to income, age, gender identity and ethnic or racial characteristics are highly encouraged to apply.

Proposals are due Sept. 15, 2020. To apply, visit bcbsm.com/innovations. ­­

If you’re in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

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Photo credit: Pornpak Khunatorn

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