UMass lecturer to partner with suicide prevention project

Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion Gloria DiFulvio will lead an evaluation of efforts to prevent suicides among young people. | Contributed photo

Gloria DiFulvio, a senior lecturer in the Health Promotion and Policy Program at the University of Massachusetts, will lead evaluation efforts to mitigate suicide cases in young people.

This project will be in partnership between the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. According to DiFulvio, from 2009-13 the suicide rate of those aged 10 to 24 increased by 62 percent. This amounts to approximately 6.3 per 100,000 people; in 2009 this was 3.9 per 100,000 people.

Through funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, two hospital systems -- Heyward Hospital and Berkshire Medical Center -- will implement measures to improve the capabilities to care for those at risk for suicide and to enhance early detection and identification for those at a greater risk.

“The hope is that the models of care we are introducing will show promise and can be replicated across other hospitals and statewide systems that serve youth,”DiFulvio said. “We’re at the beginning right now; we are starting to get a different understanding of what really makes a difference, how to communicate about suicide and what matters most for youth who need this help.”

She also notes that in Massachusetts youth suicide is a growing public health concern. Support for this program comes from the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, named after the son of former Sen. Gordon Smith who committed suicide. The act facilitates support for prevention programs nationally, among tribal groups and universities and colleges. 

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