Grants Will Help Texans at Risk for Suicide
By David Doolittle


Just by answering more hotline calls, Texas will be able to improve care for people struggling with thoughts of suicide thanks to a two-year, $3 million grant from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s State Capacity Building Initiative.

The funds will be used to help Texas call centers answer more calls, which will reduce wait times and connect more residents to local treatment facilities or crisis and emergency service centers, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) said last week.

“Currently, Texans who call into the Lifeline can be routed to different backup call centers, which may be out of state,” HHSC said. “This can result in individuals or families not receiving efficient routing to local treatment, support and longer wait times.”

The grant – $1.5 million each year for two years beginning in March 2020 – will raise the in-state Lifeline answer rate to 70%, up from the current 31% rate, HHSC says.

“Suicide is a concern for large and small communities across Texas and the nation,” said Mark Ware, senior director of crisis services of My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, one of four local mental health authorities that HHSC will work with using the funds. “With the Lifeline grant, our employees are able to connect callers in our community with local resources to help with immediate needs and effectively impact suicide rates across Texas.”

The other mental health authorities are the Harris (County) Center for Mental Health and IDD; Integral Care, based in Travis County; and Emergence Health Network, based in El Paso County.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Texas, according to 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is the second-leading cause of death for Texans ages 15-34, and fourth-leading cause for Texans ages 35-44.

And suicide is also a concern for physicians. Across the U.S., more than one physician a day commits suicide. In fact, suicide follows neoplastic disease as the leading cause of death among medical residents between 2000 and 2014.

The Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Physician Health and Wellness has created CME called Break the Silence: Physician Suicide. The course, which is worth 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and 1 ethics credit, provides the framework for observing symptoms and understanding suicide risk.

As with most CME courses in the TMA Education Center, Break the Silence is free to TMA members thanks to a grant from TMA Insurance Trust.

If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Last Updated On

December 04, 2019

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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