The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is seeking applicants for the emergency $40 million grant program to prevent suicide.


The program is part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive response to the needs of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release.


The fiscal year (FY) 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention (COVID-19 ERSP) grant program will award $40 million to 50 awardees to spend over a 16-month period.


SAMHSA’s annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that there were 57.8 million Americans living with mental and/or substance use disorder in 2018. The current national COVID-19 pandemic is expected to contribute to the growth in the number of Americans needing urgent care to address mental health needs. SAMHSA is working to expeditiously award grants to aid the nation’s communities, according to the release.


“Currently, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in our nation,” said Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, 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 purpose of this program is to support states and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in advancing efforts to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among adults 25 and older in order to reduce the overall suicide rate and number of suicides in the United States. The program also includes a special focus on victims of domestic violence.


“We know that for many Americans home is not the safest place,” 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 will add to the $375 million that SAMHSA has previously awarded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For details, visit www.samhsa.gov/coronavirus.


SAMHSA also operates the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicideprevention.org), a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is 1-800-273-8255.