Governor Kelly Announces Kansas Receives More than $3.6M for Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today that the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) is receiving more than $3.6 million as part of a five-year federal grant to implement youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies. The funding will help reduce suicides and suicidal ideation in Kansans aged 10-24 years. 

“Improving mental health in every community, including among our youngest Kansans, is essential to creating a healthy, thriving Kansas,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This funding will further our efforts to reduce suicide rates by providing support and resources for Kansans in crisis.” 

The funding for the Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Program Grant comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It will support KDADS in reaching young Kansans through schools, educational institutions, juvenile justice systems, substance use programs, mental health programs, and the foster care system. 

“This grant funding tells young people across Kansas that ‘we hear you asking for support and help, and your voices are being heard,’” KDADS Secretary Laura Howard said. “This federal funding allows us to implement effective programs at the local level where we can reach our younger population who are struggling with their mental health and guide them to the resources they need in their community.” 

The award will focus on strategies and initiatives for youth and young adults residing in Wyandotte County and the 12-county southeast region of Kansas (Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Crawford, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson).  

“Mental health is health, and it’s critical we treat it as such,” Representative Sharice Davids, KS-03, said. “Through this new programming, we can help reach kids who are struggling and ensure they are supported and cared for. I’m proud to have helped bring these much-needed resources home to create healthy, resilient communities in Wyandotte County and across Kansas.” 

With this funding, KDADS will focus on addressing strategic directions identified by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and the recommendations created by the Kansas Governor’s Mental Health Task Force (2017) and the Special Committee on Mental Health Modernization and Reform (2021-2022).  

Through this award, KDADS aims to: 

  • Strengthen and broaden public communication efforts about risk and protective factors for suicide; 
  • Improve suicide risk recognition among youth organizations and professionals by increasing connections to culturally sensitive, consumer-responsive treatment services; 
  • Evaluate, develop, and implement evidence-based suicide screenings at behavioral health care and educational sites; 
  • Implement and enhance safety net support, including the creation of safety plans and referrals to treatment; 
  • Expand access to suicide post-intervention counseling by providing training; 
  • Improve statewide capacity to collect and analyze data related to suicide prevention efforts, and suicide morbidity/mortality. 

“The award of Garrett Lee Smith funding to support suicide prevention in Kansas is recognition of the incredible work done to this point and the exciting potential for collaboration across sectors to reduce suicidality and deaths of despair in our youth,” Bailey Blair, Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition president, said. “The influx of resources combined with the infrastructure created by suicide prevention advocates and allied professionals across the state will allow for novel and responsive solutions to issues facing youth in Kansas and support the integration of suicide prevention practices across the lifespan.”