The Iowa Department of Public Health has received a $440,000 federal grant for suicide prevention programs. DeAnn Decker, the department’s substance abuse bureau chief, says the money will fund screening and assessment programs for clients of the state substance abuse treatment programs. “So that every client between the ages of 10 and 24 will be screened with a screening tool…they will be screened for depression and suicide, and then follow up for those clients if they need any help,” Decker explains.

Another part of the program will work in public middle and high schools. “That will be training staff on signs and symptoms of kids in the schools — and high-risk behaviors that may lead to suicide,” Decker says. The Health Department will coordinate the grant with the “Your Life Iowa” program announced by Governor Branstad last November.

The program is called a resource for youth, parents, school personnel and all Iowans looking for help and information about bullying and youth suicide prevention. Decker says the information they put together to win the three-year grant showed how big a problem suicide has become in Iowa. “Suicides are the second leading cause of death amongst Iowans ages 15 to 24, and it’s the fourth leading cause of death amongst younger Iowans — ages five to 14,” Decker says. She says suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in Iowa.

Decker says there are lot of things that are leading young people to consider suicide. “I just think there’s so much stress with social media and so many things that go on in a child’s life that just becomes an issue, and bullying is just another part of the problem, and we really want to find ways to address it,” Decker says.

The grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA will allow the Health Department to continue efforts to prevent suicides in the state, and Decker says it could help screen as many as 14,000 people.

If you have questions or need help, you can call  Your Life Iowa at: 855-581-8111 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 800-273-TALK, or call your doctor or go to the emergency room. For more information and resources about suicide prevention, visit: