News Release:
October 17, 2019
Contact: SCDMH Office of Public Affairs
(803) 898-8582

Columbia, SC — The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline announced Wednesday, October 10th that the SC Department of Mental Health has been awarded a FY20-21 State Capacity Building Initiative Grant by Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The two-year award, which totals $741,672, will allow the expansion of the capacity of South Carolina to answer Lifeline calls.

Mental Health America of Greenville County (MHA-Greenville) answers calls the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline receives from South Carolinians in crisis. Currently, the Organization is unable to answer all calls from South Carolina to the Lifeline, meaning those beyond its capacity are routed out of state to be answered. As a recipient of the State Capacity Building Initiative Grant, MHA-Greenville will begin to gradually expand its capacity, resulting in more calls being routed to local assistance. SCDMH will additionally be pursuing State funding and additional sources of financial support for the State’s certified Lifeline call center, to grow and sustain its capability to help South Carolinians who call the Lifeline.

“Seeking this Grant to expand the Lifeline capacity is an important part of SCDMH’s dedication to ending suicide in South Carolina,” said Agency Interim Director Mark W. Binkley. “Our strong partnership with Mental Health America, particularly the Greenville Chapter, is invaluable in this endeavor. We realize in South Carolina that to combat this epidemic, we must work together.”

“Our organization has been answering National Suicide Prevention Lifeline calls since 2007 without dedicated funding,” said MHA-Greenville Executive Director Jennifer Piver. “We’ve always had the skills, infrastructure and desire but never enough staff. In 2018, nearly 33,000 calls came from South Carolina (including Spanish and veteran calls); these funds will enable us to answer more of those calls locally. We are grateful for this partnership as it will allow South Carolinians to receive support from those who work with SCDMH and other community resources, thus saving lives.”

SCDMH is dedicated to the Zero Suicide Healthcare Initiative. In 2018, the Agency set out to create a suicide care pathway, not only for its own organization and staff but also for community healthcare systems across the state. The Agency is focused on inclusion of all healthcare systems and community partners within SC in evidence-based training in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. “Expansion of the Lifeline in SC will be an instrumental partnership in saving lives,” said Jennifer Butler, interim director of SCDMH’s Office of Suicide Prevention. “Where there is unity, there is strength and hope.”

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s mission is to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses, giving priority to adults with serious and persistent mental illness and children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances. The Agency serves approximately 100,000 people each year, approximately 30,000 of whom are children and adolescents. As South Carolina’s public mental health system, it provides outpatient mental health services through a network of 16 community mental health centers and associated clinics, serving all 46 counties, and psychiatric hospital services via three State hospitals, including one for substance use treatment. In addition to mental health services, the Agency provides long-term care services in one community nursing care center and three State veterans’ nursing homes.