Maryland Suicide Prevention Program seeks to save lives, impart hope and support communities
The Maryland Suicide Prevention Program aims to prevent deaths by increasing awareness and by  improving preparedness to identify individuals at risk, to intervene, and to provide support to promote healing and improved quality of life. By partnering with various state departments, agencies, and community members, this mission is possible.
The Suicide Prevention Program oversees the Maryland Crisis Hotline which comprises five regional hubs. When Marylanders call 1-800-422-0009, they can can access crisis intervention resources, information on overdose-reversing drug naloxone and on substance use treatment, and other mental health resources 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Crisis chat can also be accessed at help4mdyouth.org Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Calls to the hotline are routed to a regional hub familiar with local resources based on the first six digits of the caller’s phone number. The providers are connected with local resources, including emergency response, and are able to activate mobile crisis teams if needed. All hotline specialists are trained in crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and substance use disorders. They are provided hands-on training prior to taking crisis calls on their own. We are working with providers for the Maryland Crisis Hotline to meet the new screening requirements of the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act. Over the coming months, we will expand advertisement for the Maryland Crisis Hotline to ensure people are aware of and accessing this life-saving resource.
The Suicide Prevention Program also manages the Maryland Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Network (MD-SPIN) project. MD-SPIN provides suicide prevention training, resources, and technical assistance to advance a comprehensive suicide prevention and early intervention service system for youth and young adults, ages 10 to 24. The purpose of MD-SPIN is to reduce premature loss of lives from suicide by increasing the number of at-risk youth who are identified, referred and receive quality behavioral health services. Kognito, an online gatekeeper training, is available for free through md.kognito.com as part of the MD-SPIN project. We are working to increase interest and use of the online Kognito training. We are also working to expand our suicide prevention training offerings across the state. More information on MD-SPIN can be found here.
The Director of Suicide Prevention and the Director of Early Intervention and Wellness participate on the Governor’s Commission for Suicide Prevention. Every quarter of the year, the commission holds meetings that are open to the public. The commission develops the state plan for suicide prevention and works to raise public awareness about and to prevent suicide. The state plan for suicide prevention identifies groups at a higher risk and provides prevention strategies for those people. We are looking to partner with more members of the general public. More information about the Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention can be found here.
The Maryland Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration hosts an annual suicide prevention conference every October. The conference includes several sessions on a wide range of topics -- including high-risk groups and postvention -- which is support for loved ones affected by suicide. The conference is open to the public and works to ensure professionals, community members, and agencies are receiving up-to-date, evidence-based information on prevention. More information on the annual conference can be found here.
-- Janel Cubbage is Director of Suicide Prevention at the Maryland Department of Health. For more information on her program, contact her at janel.cubbage@maryland.gov or 410-402-8576.