Suicide prevention office receives federal money

Filed under: Health Care |

A program that trains people to work with adolescents who are at risk for suicide has received a $400,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Known as Project Safety Net, the three-year program is operated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The program will train social services and juvenile justice workers, as well as college campus leaders, to recognize and respond to warning signs of suicide, said Jarrod Hindman, director of the Office of Suicide Prevention, which will oversee the project.

El Paso, Larimer, Mesa, Pueblo and Weld counties, along with the University of Colorado at Boulder, are participating in Project Safety Net, which started Oct. 1 and will continue through Sep. 30, 2009.

Hindman said program administrators will work with local advisory boards and a subcommittee of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado to create and disseminate cross-system referral protocols for suicide prevention.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Coloradans ages 10 to 34,” Hindman said. “In a state where more Coloradans die annually by suicide than in motor vehicle crashes, and where young people in the juvenile justice and family welfare systems are at an elevated risk for suicide, this grant is incredibly timely and crucial for the people of Colorado.”

For more information, contact the Office of Suicide Prevention at (303) 692-2539, or the local Suicide Prevention Partnership at 571-7447.

Violence prevention grant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently awarded the Prevention Services Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment $343,453 annually for three years to enhance Colorado’s capacity to address child and adolescent health through violence prevention.

Colorado was one of only two states awarded this funding to implement violence prevention strategies designed to prevent child maltreatment, suicide, sexual violence, bullying, school violence, community violence and teen dating violence.

Shannon Breitzman, director of the Injury, Suicide and Violence Prevention Unit that will oversee the grant, said the project is based on a plan to reduce youth violence by addressing the risk factors that have an effect on multiple types of violence.

“Bold Steps toward Child and Adolescent Health: A Plan for Youth Violence Prevention in Colorado,” is available at A core component of the plan is to use the strengths of young people in prevention efforts, and to implement programs and strategies that focus on positive youth development.

The CDC grant will allow the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to prioritize integrated prevention strategies to effectively reduce violence in Colorado.

Three communities, to be identified by March, will pilot recommendations of the plan. Communities will be identified based on elevated rates of child and adolescent violence, a high presence of risk factor indicators, a lack of protective factor indicators and a readiness to implement violence prevention initiatives. Pilot communities will implement community-level recommendations of the strategic plan in an effort to have an impact on child and adolescent violence communitywide.

Pilot communities also will allow the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to enhance community and political support for integrated prevention approaches, ultimately contributing to statewide reductions in all forms of child and adolescent violence.

For more information, contact the Injury, Suicide and Violence Prevention Unit at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at (303) 692-2609.

Health care spending lower

Spending for health care is moderating as consumers and employers take advantage of health insurance plans’ new generation of cost-saving strategies.

That’s according to a study of health care spending conducted by actuaries at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The study found that “the rate of growth in U.S. health care spending slowed for the third straight year in 2005…was the third straight year that … premium growth decelerated and the slowest rate of growth since 1997.” The slower rate of premium growth was lower than government estimates in 2006.

A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “The Factors Fueling Rising Healthcare Costs,” showed a direct relationship between consumers’ enrollment in multi-tiered drug formularies and a slower rate of growth of prescription drug spending, said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The CMS study also found that prescription drug spending “continued a dramatic deceleration” and that the slowdown was driven in part “by the proliferation of tiered-co-payment benefit plans.”

Both the public and private sectors show slower health care spending growth, according to the study. Government officials estimate that the cost of the Medicare prescription drug plan will be much lower than anticipated. The average premium paid by seniors decreased to $22 a month, which is 40 percent lower than forecast. The combination of robust competition and plans’ cost-containment strategies means the cost to taxpayers will be $113 billion less than previously projected.

Ignagni said Medicare health plans are employing many of the same value-focused techniques that are working in the commercial market, such as multi-tiered formularies that ensure consumers have access to the most cost-effective prescription medicines.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.