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Catholic Charities Suicide Prevention Program to Include Children, Teens and Seniors

In 2021, Catholic Charities Behavioral Health Services received a grant from the US Department of Heath and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to help address an increase in suicides stemming from the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic Charities has been providing at-risk adults with robust safety planning, especially those with a history of anxiety, depression, substance use disorders or domestic violence. Services include universal screening for suicide risk and integrated outpatient behavioral health treatment at our three Behavioral Health Clinic locations in Glendale, Corona, and Jamaica, Queens.

With the SAMSHA grant ending, Catholic Charities can continue these vital services with support from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation (MCHF) which provided us a $500,000 grant to continue providing suicide prevention services in 2023. The program will now serve children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

Since the pandemic began, suicides in these demographics have alarmingly increased. Whether coping with isolation or depression or because of the effects of social media, connecting with children and adolescents and seniors about suicide prevention resources is essential in ensuring they have a path to mental wellness. The program is proactive in identifying individuals of all ages at risk of suicide, focusing not only on clients who have already attempted suicide.

Catholic Charities’ Suicide Prevention efforts reach youth through grassroots efforts, connection with parishes, youth services and social media. Children specifically come to the program by referrals from local hospitals and schools. The program provides outreach to low-income older adults in senior housing, at our older adult centers and through messages on our older adult center communication platform. All suicide prevention pamphlets are distributed to our senior housing and older adult centers, as well as in food pantries.

The new program counts on a collaboration between the client, therapist, and care specialist that lends itself to an integrated and holistic approach to treatment. Often the psychosocial stressors or social determinants of health lead clients to feel hopeless. Hopelessness is a common feeling reported by many that experience suicidal ideation. Providing assistance to help the client address issues of unstable housing, food insecurity, and financial hardship is instrumental in improving a clients’ mental well-being and compliments the therapeutic process.

All at-risk clients have both the Mobile Crisis Team and the 988-hotlines saved into their phones.

If you know of anyone who might need help, please contact the Catholic Charites Mobile Crisis Team at (718) 514-8031 today. Individuals are also encouraged to dial 988, the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.