Suicide Prevention

Suicide claims the lives of over 1,300 Pennsylvanians each year; that is an average of 3.5 lives each day. It is estimated that each suicide directly affects six people. Therefore, over 7,800 Pennsylvanians become survivors of suicide each year.

Former US Surgeon General David Satcher presented the Call to Action to Prevent Suicide in 1999 in which he stated that the problems of suicide and suicide prevention are critical public health priorities for our nation. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention debuted in 2001.

The Advisory committee of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) prioritized a state suicide prevention plan as one of the major goals for OMHSAS. A work group was formed and began to meet in July 2005. This prevention plan is a collaborative effort between those dedicated individuals from both the public and private sectors of our state. The work group is striving to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention so that fewer Pennsylvanians experience the pain and grief resulting from the suicide death of a loved one.

Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Plan

Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative Structure and Goals

Pennsylvania Adult Suicide Prevention Plan (Updated July 2014)

Pennsylvania Older Adult Suicide Prevention Plan (Updated July 2014)


National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

The U.S. Surgeon General and theNational Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recently released a revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2012). Tthe Action Alliance selected four priorities that will help the group reach its goal of saving 20,000 lives in the next five years. The priorities were chosen because of their potential to produce the systems-level change necessary to substantially lower the burden of suicide in our nation. The priorities are:

  1. Integrate suicide prevention into health care reform and encourage the adoption of similar measures in the private sector. 
  2. Transform health care systems to significantly reduce suicide.
  3. Change the public conversation around suicide and suicide prevention.
  4. Increase the quality, timeliness, and usefulness of surveillance data regarding suicidal behaviors.

Resources for Military Families

Lilac Springs PA for Combat Vets: Breakaways for Combat Veterans, their partners and families; mission is to make Northwest Pennsylvania the premiere region in the United States for privately supported services for Veterans. More information.

bullet Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative
bullet Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition


Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

2015 PSA Contest Winners Announced
The winners of the Third Annual Contest for Youth Suicide Prevention have been announced. Public service announcement (PSA) entries were received in four categories from high school students across the state: posters, audio (radio spots), 60-second videos, and 30-second videos. Check out the winning, honorable mention, and noteworthy entries.

Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative Web Site
The Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative has its own website. The website provides news and information about the ongoing work of the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative, as well as resources for youth and young adults, family members, survivors, and professionals. A section on local and county initiatives highlights the efforts of county suicide prevention task forces and other community organizations and links people to resources within their local communities. Another section provides training resources on youth suicide prevention. There is also information about the Garrett Lee Smith “Youth Suicide Prevention in Primary Care” grant projects.

Youth Suicide Prevention Online Training Available
A new training, “Adolescent Suicide Risk Assessment,” written by Dr. Virginia Biddle, Jefferson University, is now available online free of charge. The training was created in conjunction with the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention in Primary Care grant project.  The course can be accessed on the website of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Learning objectives include:

  • Discuss the role of clinicians in the prevention of suicide.
  • Discuss the prevalence of youth suicide.
  • Explain why youth suicide occurs.
  • Set the stage for an adolescent interview.
  • Assess adolescents for suicide risk by inquiring about background risk factors (using HEADSSS) and subjective risk factors.
  • Refer adolescents at risk for suicide for the appropriate level of care.
  • Discuss possible treatments and how to measure success.
  • Assess family needs, strengths, resource, and supports.

While continuing education credits are offered for specifically for pediatric nurse practitioners, anyone can take the course to learn the content.

Adolescent Suicide Risk Assessment (scroll to Mental Health under course categories and click on course title).

Free Kit Available for Workshop on “Suicide Prevention among LGBT Youth”
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), which is funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide technical assistance and resources on suicide prevention, has developed a free downloadable workshop kit on “Suicide Prevention among  LGBT Youth.” The workshop is designed to help schools and other organizations take action to reduce suicidal behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. The kit was developed in response to a significant increase over the past several years in requests for information and training on suicidal behavior among LGBT youth and follows up on SPRC’s 2008 document, Suicide Risk and Prevention ofr Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth.

The kit includes a leader’s guide, two PowerPoint presentations, a packet of handouts, and a brief public service announcement  from “Think Before You Speak.” The materials can be adapted and personalized for specific contexts and time constraints. The full workshop takes four hours but can be shortened. The leader’s guide provides helpful instructions and workshop resources.

Youth Suicide Prevention Public Service Campaign Launched
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, along with the Ad Council and the Inspire USA Foundation, launched a new Teen Suicide Prevention national public service campaign. The public service announcement (PSA) campaign—We Can Help Us —empowers teens by reminding them that there are ways to get through whatever problems they face. The campaign includes TV, radio and print advertising, and mall and in-school posters and viral videos. The web site features stories from teens, as well as tips to help cops with tough issues and links to resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, for teens who need immediate help.



Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition

Join the Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition
The Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition is continuing to expand its membership base.  As the coalition grows we will be looking for regional representatives to partner with in an effort to improve collaboration at the state, regional and local level.  If you or someone you know is interested in joining the coalition please complete and return this form. You will be contacted with information about suicide prevention. Membership is free and there is no obligation required from you.  Please contact Rebecca May-Cole or Govan Martin, co-chairs of the coalition at for further information.  Thank you for your interest.

The Pennsylvania Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition created a cause on Facebook.  You can join the cause at and help spread the word about suicide prevention. You can also visit our newly create page at

Visit our new web site:  

County Suicide Prevention Task force Information

County Task Forces Contact Sheet

Fact Sheets