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History of Suicide Prevention


1958: Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center opens, funded by the U.S. Public Health Service and directed by Edwin Shneidman.

1966: Center for the Study of Suicide Prevention (later renamed the Suicide Prevention Research Unit) established at the National Institute of Mental Health.

1968: American Association of Suicidology founded by Edwin Shneidman.

1983: CDC Violence Prevention Unit (later subsumed into the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control) established; focuses public attention on an increase in the rate of youth suicide.

1985: Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide established to review the problem of youth suicide and recommend actions.

1987: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention founded.

1989: Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1996: Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) USA founded with the goal of preventing suicide through public education, community action, and advocacy.

  • Georgia History Note: SPAN USA was founded in Marietta, Georgia by Jerry and Elsie Weyrauch after the loss of their Physician daughter Terri Ann Weyrauch.

Prevention of Suicide: Guidelines for the Formulation and Implementation of National Strategies published by the World Health Organization and the United Nations, with the participation of a number of agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

1998: National Suicide Prevention Conference organized by SPAN and held in Reno, Nevada as a response to the WHO/UN publication. This public/private partnership created an expert panel that issued 81 recommendations.

1999: Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide published, which consolidated the National Suicide Prevention Conference's recommendations, including the creation of a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

2001: National Strategy for Suicide Prevention published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It outlined a coherent national plan to enhance the suicide prevention infrastructure, including the creation of a technical assistance and resource center.

  • Georgia History Note: Through a contract with Georgia's DHR, Public Health, Injury Prevention, SPAN formed a Steering Committee to oversee the writing and publishing of the Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan. It was adopted by the state of Georgia in 2001.

2002: Suicide Prevention Resource Center established at Education Development Center, Inc. with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. This publication examined and summarized the state of knowledge about suicide and the state of the art of suicide prevention.

  • Georgia History Note: SPAN USA moved from Marietta, GA to Washington DC, and SPAN-GA was formed to fill the needs of the state of Georgia.

2003: Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America published by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

  • Georgia History Note: The steering committee that was formed to work on the Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan was dissolved and the SPCGeorgia (Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia) was formed.

2004: Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act passed by the U.S. Congress to support and enhance youth suicide prevention efforts in the states, among tribal nations and at colleges and universities. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2005: The Department of Labor, Heath and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006 which appropriates a total of $30 million for suicide prevention was signed into law.

  • Georgia History Note: September 21, 2005, SPCGeorgia received the Compassion Capitol Grant to hold the 1st Georgia Suicide Prevention Stakeholders Meeting which was held at the Magnolia Manor Hotel, Tucker, GA.

2006: The SAMHSA Program Priority Matrix was updated to include suicide prevention as one of the matrix priorities.

  • Georgia History Note: Georgia's House Bill 1092 was passed establishing a Suicide Prevention Program in the Department of Human Resources, Public Health, Injury Prevention and providing for a full time Suicide Prevention Coordinator, part time epidemiologist, and part time administrative assistance.

Federal Working Group on Suicide Prevention established. Representatives from SAMHSA, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute on Mental Health, Indian Health Services, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies.


  • Georgia History Note: April 25 and 26, 2007, SPCGeorgia hosted the second Georgia Suicide Prevention Stakeholders Meeting at Callaway Gardens, GA with joint funding from Georgia's Department of Human Resources, Public Health and CDC - Center for Disease Control. Carl Vinson Institute, CDC, Emory and Division of Public Health were the coordinating agencies.


  • Georgia History Note: December 4th and 5th, 2008, the third Georgia Suicide Prevention Stakeholders Meeting was held at Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center, Peachtree City, GA. This conference was funded through Georgia's DHR and a Mental Health Substance Abuse Block Grant. And February 27/28, 2008 the first Preventing Suicide at Colleges/Universities in Georgia, Athens, GA

2009: SPAN USA and AFSP National merged combining their efforts and members into one organization.

  • Georgia History Note: Georgia's Suicide Prevention Program was moved in the restructure to reside in the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, Division of Mental Health with the funding split equally between Adult Mental Health and Child and Adolescent Services. And February 19/20, 2009, the second Preventing Suicide at Colleges/Universities in Georgia, Athens, Ga


  • Georgia History Note: August 20th, 2010, Georgia's Older Adults, Suicide Prevention and Primary Care was held in Macon, GA. . And April 12/13, 2010, the third Preventing Suicide at Colleges/Universities in Georgia, Athens, GA


  • Georgia History Note: September 9,10,11, 2011, Georgia's fourth Suicide Prevention Stakeholders Meeting was held in Macon, GA with over 400 registrants.


  • Georgia History Note: September 21st, 2012, Georgia's first Annual Joining Hands Across Georgia Suicide Prevention Coalitions Conference was held in Dublin, GA. with community coalitions and 1 statewide coalition represented. And March 1, 2012, the fourth Preventing Suicide at Colleges/Universities in Georgia, Athens, GA

May 16, 2014 - 5th Suicide (check) Prevention Conference on College Campuses: Supported by GLS Grant for Youth Suicide Prevention and sponsored by DBHDD and SPCGeorgia

2015 - Growth to 15 local/communitySuicide Prevention Coalitions called “Joining Hands across Georgia”

2013/2014: Statewide Training for CSSRS and Suicide Prevention Safety Plans- and given to all primary care physicians connected with the state system implemented by State Suicide Program/DBHDD

October 2015 - Georgia receives 3rd GLS Grant  focusing on continuum of care and supporting the statewide College Coalition effort.

2013-2015: - “Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training” for police and other groups increase throughout state (sponsored by the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), with the Suicide Prevention, Intervention, Aftercare and Self-care modules being developed by Sheri McGuinness, SPAN-GA and used nationally.

2013-2015 - “Mental Health First Aid” funded by DBHDD and implemented by “Mental Health America,  Georgia” and other organizations, increase throughout the state

2001-2015 - Suicide Prevention Facilitator Training (sponsored by the LINK & SPAN-GA) to lead SOS Groups

Spring, 2015, 4th Camp SOS for families of suicide survivors

May 5, 2015 -HB198, Jason-Flatt Act was signed by the Governor, which requires certified school personnel to have annual suicide prevention training and for school systems to adopt a policy regarding student suicide prevention. Many individuals and SP organizations advocated for passage of this Act.

Spring 2016 - 5th Annual Camp SOS for families that have had a loss by suicide

NOTE: Many organizations in the state of Georgia are contributing to the big picture, doing awareness, education, trainings, advocacy, support of survivors, and outreach including AFSP, Brandon’s Key for Life, Johnny Foundation, NAMI-GA, SPAN-GA, Mental Health America-Georgia and Will to Live Foundation


Some of this information was extracted from SPRC materials, visit their site at