The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) partnered with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Administration for Community Living (ACL), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and with local communities using web technology to harness the power of community engagement around the urgency of suicide prevention. The cross-agency team supported the formation of echo sites or community-organized gatherings, which served as a catalyst for dialogue, collaboration, and local action. Envisioning a relay race, the team created a live, interactive webcast featuring national experts, best practices and individuals with lived experiences. Following the webcast, host organizations led discussions on best practices using HHS-developed materials and engaged participants to develop action plans specific to their work and settings.
A total of 133 simultaneously running echo sites hosted over 1,400 in-person participants and thousands more via webcast. The team provided participants with tools and resources to customize the information for communities to amplify suicide prevention efforts. Social media was used to create awareness, promote registration, interact with participants during the event, and encourage post-event action. This innovative event transformed passive participation to active engagement, fostered collaboration among systems of care, and changed the communities’ focus from a “one size fits all” approach to a recognition of unique resources and assets that can be customized for community needs. As a result, the urgent message of suicide prevention was reinforced considerably.
Jeffrey Coady, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Michelle Hoersch, Office on Women’s Health
David Bingaman, Health Resources and Services Administration
Jonathan Sanchez-Leos, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Eileen Zeller, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Kathleen Votava, Administration for Community Living
Kathie Gray, Administration for Children and Families
Catherine Leonis, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Jim Varpness, Administration for Community Living
Erica Fleisher, Administration for Children and Families
Stephanie Gove-Yin, Office on Women’s Health
Elizabeth Otter, Office on Women’s Health
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