SAMHSA announces $40 million for emergency grants to prevent suicide during COVID-19

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced Wednesday it will provide $40 million in grant funds for suicide prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention grant program will split the $40 million between 50 awardees who will have 16 months to spend the money.

SAMHSA estimates there were 57.8 million Americans living with mental and/or substance use disorder in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase those numbers, the agency said, and the grant money would allow organizations to address mental health needs quickly.

“Currently, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in our nation,” said Elinore McCance-Katz, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “We know the stressors that are accompanying this pandemic – job loss and financial instability, anxiety, grief, depression, and other factors – can lead to suicide and suicide attempts.”

The program will focus on providing states and communities with the funding to advance suicide prevention efforts in adults 25 and older. The program will also include a special focus on victims of domestic violence.

“We know that for many Americans home is not the safest place,” Assistant Secretary McCance-Katz said. “Under the stay-at-home policies, these individuals are at greater risk for mental health conditions including suicidality. Therefore, SAMHSA has allocated funding specifically to victims of domestic violence.”

The $40 million is in addition to the $375 million SAMHSA has awarded organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.