Who We Are – Our Story

The Beginning

The Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) began as the South Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative (SCYSPI), a program funded by a 5-year federal Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Grant (GLS) that was awarded to the S.C. Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant provides funding for fighting suicide among youth and young adults aged 10-24. Since opening its doors, OSP has conducted trainings and presentations to more than 20,000 South Carolinians, working closely with state agencies, school systems, nonprofits, faith-based communities, and state and private medical and behavioral health care systems.

SCYSPI banner logo
SCYSPI banner logo

The SC Suicide Prevention Coalition

The office set goals for itself and The Palmetto State, such as implementing stronger infrastructure within state and private medical and behavioral health care systems, schools, and various other community settings to better serve individuals with thoughts of suicide.

In 2016, the South Carolina Suicide Prevention Coalition reassembled, consisting of leadership and experts from state agencies, nonprofits, members of the S.C. Legislature, and key community stakeholders who also lead and collaborate on other suicide prevention efforts across the state. The Coalition’s primary focus is the implementation of the South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Accompanied by members of  the SC Suicide Prevention Coalition,  Co-Chair Sen. Katrina Shealy presents the South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention: 2018-2025 during a press conference in April 2019.

A Plan for Hope

Accompanied by members of the SC Suicide Prevention Coalition, Co-Chair Sen. Katrina Shealy presents the South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention: 2018-2025 during a press conference in April 2019.

South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention

The South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention: 2018-2025

In late 2018, after nearly two years of collecting data, evaluating research, and reviewing evidence-based trainings, strategies, and procedures, the Coalition released the South Carolina Strategy for Suicide Prevention: 2018-2025 with the goal of reducing suicide by 20% by 2025. The Strategy is a living document that contains a wealth of information for how any organization, community or individual can help fight suicide in South Carolina.

Zero Suicide Initiative

Conference room

Leadership from throughout the SC Department of Mental Health listen to a presentation during a zero suicide academy held in may 2019. SCDMH has hosted several zero suicide academies since receiving the zero suicide grant in 2018, buying in as an agency and recruiting other medical and behavioral health systems to be a part of the zero suicide effort.

In 2018, SCDMH was awarded a Zero Suicide grant from SAMHSA, which is allocated to addressing the suicidality of individuals aged 25 and older by implementing Zero Suicide in medical and behavioral health care systems. Hear Dr. Michael Hogan talk about Zero Suicide, below.

Having acquired this grant, the office expanded its focus to cover the entire lifespan, but in order to emphasize that all ages would be served by the office, a new identity would be needed.

The Office of Suicide Prevention

In January of 2019, SCDMH announced it would be creating the Office of Suicide Prevention within the division of Community Mental Health Services. This established OSP as a permanent state office dedicated to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention efforts in South Carolina.

EXPANDING THE LIFELINE

In December, 2019, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Office of Suicide Prevention was awarded a Lifeline Expansion Grant from Vibrant Emotional Health, with a goal of increasing the in-state answer rate from 19% to 70% by September 2020. Previously, our state had four call centers dedicated to fielding calls to the National Lifeline number—1-800-273-8255. We currently have one center, Mental Health America of Greenville County, and with the help of this funding they expanded their call range from the local area code of 864 to the entire state of South Carolina. The goals attached to this grant are aggressive, yet attainable, with the overarching goal of 70% of all calls originating from South Carolina are answered by a South Carolinian. This is so important, so we can connect the caller with local resources and they feel like they are talking to a neighbor in this critical time of need.

Partnerships

The Office of Suicide Prevention collaborates with numerous partners within and outside South Carolina. These partners all play crucial roles in reaching our goal of becoming a Zero Suicide state. These partners include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Education Development Center, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Alliance on Mental Illness-New Hampshire, SC National Guard, state and local chapters of NAMI, AFSP, and Mental Health America, the SC Hospital Association, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and many other state agencies and nonprofits.