CDC grants will equip CMU to fight suicide, childhood trauma

Awards are part of a nearly $6 million statewide public health initiative

| Author: Jeff Johnston

Central Michigan University is a key beneficiary of two grants to the state of Michigan from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The funds aim to reduce men's suicides and adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, in Michigan.

The grants will provide CMU more than $400,000 from the state over five years. It's part of a total statewide $4.25 million grant for suicide death prevention and a $1.5 million grant to prevent ACEs.

More than 6,700 Michiganders lost their lives to suicide between 2014 and 2018. Two-thirds of those who died were adult men. The CDC identifies suicide as a public health crisis.

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The CDC grant aims to reduce by at least 10% the number of deaths and suicide attempts among men age 25 and older over the next five years. Michigan is one of nine states to receive the grants.

"Suicide is devastating to families and communities," said Dr. Furhut Janssen, director of Behavioral Health and director of the Psychiatry Residency Program at the CMU College of Medicine. "Our role in this grant is to use our expertise to create a replicable model for training and implementing mental health and suicide prevention services.

"Our emphasis is providing mental health care to rural and isolated communities, in alignment with our mission to provide health care to the underserved."

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is leading the state's efforts, named Preventing Suicide in Michigan Men, that take a holistic approach to address a variety of risk factors that contribute to suicide.

Dr. Neli Ragina, associate professor and director of students and resident research at the CMU College of Medicine, will support planning and monitor project outcomes and evaluations.

Alison Arnold is director of CMU's Interdisciplinary Center for Community Health and Wellness, which will administer the grant funds for CMU. She serves as the facilitator for collaboration within the university and with community partners such as the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy and the Suicide Response Network.

"We expect numerous community mental health partners to become involved in these efforts," Arnold said. "CMU is honored to coordinate and support our community in addressing a broad range of risk factors including isolation, stress, substance abuse, and relationship and financial issues."

In the second CDC grant of $1.5 million statewide, CMU's interdisciplinary Center joins the Michigan Public Health Institute and partners to prevent adverse childhood experiences. ACEs are traumatic events that occur during childhood such as neglect, experiencing or witnessing violence, and having a family member attempt or die by suicide. ACEs are linked to lifelong physical and mental health issues.

"The ACEs initiative raises awareness and helps build community partnerships," Arnold said. "This important award for Michigan accelerates our collective efforts to address chronic disease and ACEs-related health issues."

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