As the basis for a collaborative development of a state suicide prevention plan, Kentucky’s Division of Mental Health recruited stakeholders from a number of interest areas and from all over the state. At the first meeting in March 2002, approximately 25 people were in attendance who subsequently formed the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Planning Group.
In July 2002, eight of the group members attended the national conference of Suicide Prevention and Advocacy Network (SPAN-USA)2 in Washington, D.C. There they were given information and tools to assist them in writing a suicide prevention plan. Upon their return, they immediately began working intensively to prioritize goals and action steps. With leadership from this core group, the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Planning Group recommended that the outline proposed by Surgeon General Satcher (US Public Health Service, 1999) and the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (US Department for Health & Human Services, 2001) be followed in Kentucky. This model recognizes suicide as a preventable public health problem.
In December 2003, several members, including state legislators Senator Tom Buford and Representative Mary Lou Marzian, attended a conference on suicide prevention planning
sponsored by the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). At this time further development of efforts in Kentucky occurred through structured facilitation provided by SPRC staff.
In June 2004, a progress report of the efforts of this group and its initial goals was published and presented to the Kentucky Commission on Services and Support for Individuals with Mental Illness, Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Disorders, and Dual Diagnosis (HB 843 Commission). Some additional highlights of progress from March 2002 through June 2004 included training over 35 trainers of QPR as well as teaching over 500 individuals the basic QPR gatekeeper skills, distributing over 2000 information packets at conferences and events, and utilizing the expertise of several experienced professionals in the field of suicidology and prevention planning.
In October 2004, a suicide prevention coordinator was hired to address the issue of suicide via collaborative funding from the Department for Public Health and the Department for Mental Health & Mental Retardation Services. In December 2004, the KY Suicide Prevention Planning Group held a strategic planning retreat. It was determined that the group had moved past the planning stage, thus that word – planning – was removed from its name. Thus the group has since been known as the KY Suicide Prevention Group (KSPG). The strategic planning process was continued in February 2005. As a result of these sessions, a state suicide prevention plan emerged. Additionally, the three main work groups of the planning period which focused upon Awareness, Education, and Evaluation/Research were closed and new task specific groups became the focal point of the efforts of the KSPG.