Imagine combining the reach of the Web and the power of community engagement to reduce suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the nation. Using “echo sites”, which are defined as community-organized gatherings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 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), Office of Women’s Health (OWH) and with local communities to hold interactive dialogues that transform participants into change agents capable of spreading the message that everyone plays a role in preventing suicide.
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.
HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.