New name and funding

Suicide Prevention Group Changes Name, Announces New Funding

(SAGINAW) – After spending nearly three decades saving lives from suicide and supporting those left behind in its wake, Saginaw-based Survivors of Suicide is announcing a new name and logo.

Honoring the organization’s founder and more accurately reflecting its expanded mission, the new name is the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network.

After a personal tragedy of her brother John’s suicide, Barb founded the grassroots organization and has grown it into a highly valued community resource — the only one of its kind in the area:

  • Raising awareness of the prevalence of suicide
  • Preventing suicides by training students, teachers, law enforcement, and health professionals, community members, and more
  • Providing a free 24/7 call line to support those who need help and for those who have lost a loved one by suicide

Three significant grants will help the organization carry out its work throughout the region.

A $25,000 grant from the Dow Corning Foundation will help the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network provide workshops in schools so that teachers and students learn to recognize those at risk of suicide and refer them to life-saving resources.

Two other grants — $50,000 from The Dow Chemical Foundation and $25,000 from the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation — will help the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network conduct similar training with health professionals and first responders.

Because the organization has pioneered several initiatives and has relentlessly opened up the conversation about suicide in the community, it continues to be consulted by a growing number of organizations, including more than 50 area middle and high schools, hospital emergency rooms, police departments, local funeral homes, faith communities, and more.

The Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network is also working to change the way the next generation of health care providers and mental health professionals learn about suicide by collaborating with Central Michigan University College of Medicine and Saginaw Valley State University Crystal M. Lange College of Health and Human Services Department of Nursing to integrate health and behavioral health education.

“Last year in the Great Lakes Region, 2,074 people called 9-1-1 reporting or threatening suicide,” Smith notes. “More than 50 died by suicide in 2015. Likely 80% of them told or showed someone beforehand. Whether that ‘someone’ is a friend, family member, or a family physician, we need to make sure we all know how to recognize the signs and connect people to the right resources for full suicide intervention.”

The Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network operates a 24/7 helpline to respond to those who need help.

Special events like the Walk for Hope in August help reduce the stigma of suicide and support family and friends left behind after suicide loss.  In addition, each November, the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network hosts Hope Starts Here, a day-long event designed for survivors of suicide loss to experience hope and understanding from those who share a similar experience.

The Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network is located on the second floor of the CMU College of Medicine building on the campus of Covenant HealthCare.