AtlantiCare is expanding its programs and services aimed at preventing suicide attempts and deaths by suicide. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded AtlantiCare Behavioral Health a 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention grant. ABH will use the $800,000 in funds to expand evidence based practices in screening and assessment of suicide risk.

According to SAMHSA, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.

“We anticipate the COVID-19 crisis will contribute to the growth in the number of individuals and families needing urgent care to address mental health needs, including suicidality,” said Brian Isaacson, MD, MBA, FAPA, FAACAP, associate chairman of the Department of Psychiatry. “We know so many in our community are struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, isolation, uncertainty and many other challenges. There is hope and there is help.”

AtlantiCare Behavioral Health will use the grant funds to address suicide risk among the general population. It will focus on enhancing services for victims of domestic violence and their dependents and provide suicide prevention training to staff of its community partner, AVANZAR. According to SAMSHA, under normal circumstances, domestic violence can lead to situations of increased stress, anxiety, depression and trauma.

“These are all contributing factors to risk for suicide,” Isaacson said.

Those in an emergency mental health situation should call 609-344-1118; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; or 911.

For more information about AtlantiCare Behavior Health program and services, call the  Access Center at 1-888-569-1000 or visit AtlantiCare’s website.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.