Sep 13, 2019

Thank you for your support!

The Center for Health and Learning manages the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VT SPC), a public-private partnership that serves as a state-wide resource fostering a sustainable approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The VT-SPC has been working on the following suicide prevention goals:

1)  Building sustainable infrastructure in Vermont for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention and substance abuse prevention through collaboration across a broad spectrum of individuals, agencies, institutions, and groups that have not previously been involved, to ensure that suicide prevention efforts in Vermont are comprehensive and sustainable.

2)  Increasing public awareness of youth suicide as a public health problem. Messages to be disseminated include that suicide is preventable; that suicide can be linked to issues of mental health and substance abuse that are preventable; and that there are effective evidence-based interventions and effective treatment strategies.

3)  Promoting and supporting the implementation of effective evidence-based suicide prevention and early intervention programs and strategies in schools, communities and Vermont institutions of higher education in order to prevent suicide among Vermont youth and adults.

CHL developed and implemented Umatter, a national best practice program and public information campaign for suicide prevention that promotes mental health, teaches self-care, risk assessment, coping and help-seeking skills.  Umatter is composed of the following components:

Umatter for Schools: Provides school teams with the knowledge and skills to develop a comprehensive, asset-based approach to suicide prevention at their school including Gatekeeper training, staff and parent awareness training, prevention and postvention protocol development and Lifelines curriculum training for implementation in grades 7-12.

Umatter for Communities: Educates professionals that work within communities to be effective in suicide prevention efforts through Gatekeeper training and prevention and postvention protocols.

Umatter for Youth and Young Adults (Umatter YYA): A youth leadership and engagement initiative that promotes mental health wellness, healthy coping mechanisms among youth and young adults, and the ability to recognize when a peer needs help and how to provide it. Umatter works with adults and teens from schools and youth serving organizations to foster healthy community cultures promoting mental health and resiliency, and addresses issues such as bullying and substance abuse prevention.  

Umatter Public Information: Umatter’s public information campaign promotes the message “you matter because you may need help and “you matter because you may be in a position to help.”  

Your support of this project, and this work, has been invaluable.  In honor of CHL's 20th Anniversary, and to support CHL's Annual Campaign, we have created a new project: CHL: Partnering With You to Prevent Suicide.  We look forwrd to giving you reports on that project!

Aug 5, 2019

The VT SPC's Zero Suicide Practice Institute

Presenters came forward at the 2 day training.
Presenters came forward at the 2 day training.

What is Zero Suicide?  Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and mental health care systems. It involves the implementation of a set of evidence-based tools and strategies used in a pathway of care for people who are suicidal.

When implemented effectively, Zero Suicide reduces suicide deaths.

The VT Suicide Prevention Center presented this year, for the first time, our Zero Suicide Practice Institute.  The Institute included two full days of teamwork and learning from national speakers and Vermont colleagues. It engaged leadership teams to understand Zero Suicide at a deep practical level, and to promote and support its implementation in their own health systems, in collaboration with state and community systems.

15 teams from a variety of healthcare settings participated, including Mental Health Agencies in VT, hospitals, primary care and elder care, and representing Blue Cross Blue Shield, One Care and VT Blueprint for Health .  Guided by Dr. Michael Hogan, a national Zero Suicide Consultant, these teams assessed organizational readiness to provide suicide safer care and identified next steps for their work. Dr. Steven Broer of Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, a pioneer of Zero Suicide in Vermont, and Dr. Thomas Delaney, UVM, suicide prevention evaluator and researcher, served as faculty presenting Vermont data and models. Teams also focused on clinical elements of screening, assessment, treatment, lethal means restriction, follow-up, care coordination, caring contact and considered linkages between organizations for suicide prevention. 

The event was sponsored by: 

The Family of Alan Lopez Gottesman
Blue Cross Blue Shield VT
Brattleboro Retreat
Chroma Technology
Kinney Pike Insurance
North Country Hospital
One Care
UVM Medical Center. 

Many thanks to all who sponsored and attended for moving forward with this important work.

Dr. Tom Delaney
Dr. Tom Delaney
Dr. Stephen Broer
Dr. Stephen Broer
JoEllen Tarallo, Director of the VTSPC
JoEllen Tarallo, Director of the VTSPC
Dr. Michael Hogan
Dr. Michael Hogan
Jul 8, 2019

Another Successful Year for Umatter YYA!

Umatter YYA participants presenting their work.
Umatter YYA participants presenting their work.

The Umatter for Youth and Young Adults (Umatter YYA) program for 2018-19 is complete!  Overall, 12 schools and 68 youth participated and implemented Mental Health Wellness Community Action Projects in their school.  Some of the projects were really insightful and creative:

Our group decided to create a workshop for 6th grade students about how to deal with stress/worries because we wish we had gotten this information when we were younger. We met weekly to design our workshop and decided to use ClassDojo - short online videos with discussion questions about changing mindset for younger children. Unfortunately we were unable to present the workshop before the end of the year, but plan to pick the project back up in the fall.

This fall, our group planted a tulip garden for The Yellow Tulip Project, as a way to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness, build community, and inspire productive conversations about how to combat the rising rates of suicide. In the spring, we had a Yellow Tulip Celebration. We had all kinds of food, and we did a "kindness rocks" project (over 50 river rocks were painted yellow and students took paint markers and wrote kind messages on the rocks to give to friends, keep for themselves, or put in the garden). We also had a "Hope Happens" poster where people wrote down what makes them hopeful. Next fall we plan to do the "I Am More" campaign, which we hope will help draw other people into the cause/club.

A detailed list of all projects is attached to this Report.

To culminate the success of the program, six schools attended the Youth Summit event on May 30, 2019 at Vermont Technical College.  The Umatter Youth Leadership Council did an amazing job facilitating the day. Each group shared about their Community Action Projects, reflected on their experience as a group, and planned next steps.  

Here are what Umatter YYA participants are saying about their experience:

“Umatter helped me gain self-confidence and make new friends”

“I like being a part of a group that is actively trying to improve the school and the life of students.”  

“People should join Umatter if they want to make a difference in their communities.  By normalizing the conversation on mental health, we help people feel less alone which ultimately brings people together.

A new Umatter YYA program will begin this Fall.  Please continue to support this important program that reaches our youth and gives them the tools and skills for positive mental health in their schools and communities!  

Presentation at the Technical College
Presentation at the Technical College

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