Suicide Prevention in Georgia

The suicide prevention movement in Georgia was begun by survivors Jerry and Elsie Weyrauch after the loss of their daughter, Terri Ann Weyrauch MD, in 1987 with the help and support of a multitude of other survivors and colleagues throughout the state of Georgia. This national grassroots organization, which was officially launched in 1996, brought the concept of "political will" into suicide prevention. As a result of their national success, SPAN formed a partnership with a number of Georgia public and private organizations in 1999 to do something about the problem of suicide in Georgia.


Responding to their plea for help, Governor Roy Barnes and the Georgia Legislature provided funding in the Fiscal Year 2001 Georgia State Budget for SPAN to organize the development of the Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan. A Steering Committee was created by rallying many Georgians representing different fields and backgrounds and along with many other contributors, participated in the Plan's development. Key partners included the Plan's Steering Committee who later became the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia and the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health. The Plan was created, published and adopted in 2001.


The Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan provided a framework for getting everyone in Georgia involved in preventing suicide. The Plan gives tools and resources as well as providing guidance for agencies and organizations on the local, regional, and state levels. At the most basic level, there are three major action steps that make up the Plan. They are Awareness, Intervention, and Methodology.  The plan in its entire form can be downloaded by clicking here - 2001GAStatePlan.pdf  The Georgia Suicide Prevention Action Strategy was created in 2007 and gave a framework for actions that served as a guide for communities to create action.  To read the Action Strategy, click here -  GA SP ACTION STRATEGY FINAL.pdf  As the updated National Suicide Prevention Strategy was finally released in 2012, we are currently devising a plan to update our own Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan.


With the advocates working closely with legislators, funding was secured and activities were launched on a community level creating the foundation of a very successful program. In 2006, HB 1092 was passed by the Georgia Legislature. This bill designated an official Suicide Prevention program in the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Injury Prevention Section and provided for a full time Suicide Prevention Coordinator, a part-time epidemiologist, and administrative assistance. The goal of the Suicide Prevention Program was to develop and execute activities that move forward the implementation of the Georgia Suicide Prevention Plan.


Since that time, the program has supported suicide prevention activities on a community level each fiscal year. It has supported the development of community suicide prevention coalitions, development of services and support for survivors, development and maintenance of the suicide prevention information network (www.gspin.org), and suicide prevention education programs delivered on a local level throughout the state.  


For more information about the program, please contact Sally vander Straeten at savanderstraeten@dhr.state.ga.us or info@gspin.org.


To review some of the accomplishments of the suicide prevention program over the past years, click here - accomplishments2013-2.pdf