Ten years ago, in October 2002, the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) was established with funding from SAMHSA. Its mission when originally appropriated by Congress was to:
- provide technical assistance in developing, implementing and evaluating effective suicide prevention programs
- provide training and field support
- serve as a clearinghouse for all pertinent best practices information regarding suicide prevention
- promote evaluation of suicide prevention programs to ensure that effective techniques, strategies, and recommended best practices are made available to users
As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, I believe SPRC has been true to its original mandate. We have also enhanced our support to the field as SAMHSA has identified additional needs over the years.
An anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the future with a hopeful perspective. Our past is rich with the hard work of many. The original leadership of Dr. Mort Silverman and then Dr. Lloyd Potter built a foundation that grows stronger each day. Over the years many gifted staff members have contributed to the Center’s efforts to build the nation’s suicide prevention infrastructure with the goal of reducing the burden of suicide. We are also very fortunate to have a committed and capable steering committee whose efforts guide our work. To all staff and advisors, past and present, thank you for your dedication to building a strong SPRC.
To our many partners in nonprofit organizations, universities, and community settings, your willingness to provide the support needed over the years in collaboration with SPRC has strengthened our product and service line. The SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention, the technical assistance we provide SAMHSA’s youth suicide prevention grantees, the resources we have created, and the training we have developed and delivered have all been strengthened because of our solid partnerships with colleagues in the field. To each of you who have contributed to building a strong SPRC, we join you as a significant part of this anniversary celebration.
Our funder and partner, SAMHSA, our many other federal colleagues who are dedicated to advancing suicide prevention, and the incredible staff in states, territories, and tribal communities have brought SPRC to a place where we can continue to evolve and provide the services needed by our many stakeholders. Today, we are a nation with a Revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and fifty state suicide prevention plans, as well a strong commitment in tribal communities and the US territories. We are poised to move forward in very significant ways. You too are very much a part of this tenth anniversary.
I am pleased to report that the Best Practices Registry now has over 100 entries. SPRC’s last fourteen Research to Practice (R2P) webinars have attracted over 7,200 participants. The Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk training has trained over 20,000 mental health providers. The Weekly Spark newsletter now reaches over 11,000 subscribers, and our Prevention Support Team has served 179 grantees who have been awarded 237 separate grants since we began providing technical assistance to Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act grantees in 2005. In 2010, SPRC began serving as the Executive Secretariat for the newly launched Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. We provide support to the Action Alliance and its over two hundred member organizations and 14 task forces. Our online library currently has 693 resources and our website receives over 7,300 unique visitors each week. This represents just a small sampling of work accomplished over the past ten years and reflects our adherence to our original mandate. It is exciting to think of what is to come.
While anniversaries are a time for celebration, they are also a time to think about the future. We should surely celebrate the past but only long enough to rejuvenate and renew ourselves for the challenges and opportunities of the years to come. Rates of suicide and suicidal behavior are still too high. There are still many sectors we must engage in the cause of suicide prevention. We must turn our collective energy to supporting the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s goal of saving 20,000 lives over the next five years. We must work to advance the 13 Goals and 60 Objectives in the Revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. I know our foundation is strong and will guide us as we take the next crucial steps.
While my tenure as Director only began in July 2008, my association with SPRC is long and treasured. I am so proud to be associated with the Center and with all you who have contributed to our work over the years. As I reflect on the many memories I have of SPRC, one of the most vivid occurred before I joined the staff. In 2003 I attended several of the SPRC-sponsored planning meetings that brought together teams of 10 dedicated individuals from each state to begin the process of developing state plans and forming state coalitions. Many of these groups are still going strong today and form the backbone of our national effort.
As you reflect on SPRC over the past ten years, how have you benefited from an SPRC product or service? How might we best move forward in the years to come? It would be wonderful to have you post an anniversary reflection or future anticipation as a comment on this blog post.
For now, happy anniversary to all who have been such a vital part of ensuring that SPRC fulfilled its originally appropriated mission and helped us build this national resource as we all continue to work to reduce the toll of suicide in our nation.
Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW