This request for applications (RFA) invites organizations in the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) service region to apply for funds to plan the development of a community-based, multi-sector, collaborative program that aims to reduce gun suicides in a population of interest.
Suicide rates have risen more than 30% in 25 states between 1999 and 2016. In Missouri, suicides have increased 36% from 1999 to 2018, making it the tenth-leading cause of death (the 19th highest rate in the nation). Nationally, suicide rates have increased among both sexes, all racial and ethnic groups, all age groups under 75, and in all geographic settings. The prevalence of suicide is nevertheless disproportionately high among a variety of population groups from a wide range of geographies and backgrounds. These groups include teens, young adults, elderly, veterans, and individuals identifying as LGBTQ.
Guns are a uniquely lethal method of suicide. In Missouri, six out of every 10 suicides involve a gun, with approximately 85% of attempts ending in death. Research shows that a person can think about suicide for an extended period, but the decision to act in a brief and vulnerable moment can happen in less than one hour. Having access to a gun at this time can determine whether someone lives or dies.
Nationwide, there is a growing awareness of promising evidence-based strategies to reduce gun suicide deaths. Examples include lethal means safety counseling, distribution of gun locking devices, safer gun storage in homes, and incorporating suicide prevention into gun safety trainings. The American Public Health Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, and Means Matter are a few examples of sources with beneficial resources.
The purpose of this opportunity is to support organizations in planning the development of a program for populations with high rates of gun suicide. Organizations will apply for planning grants to develop a program adapting or utilizing promising, evidence-based strategies to reduce gun suicides. Given the complex factors that impact suicide (economics, mental health, occupation, substance misuse, etc.) the applicant organization is expected to represent a group of organizations committed to collaborating and aligning around preventing gun suicide deaths in their community. The applicant organization will be responsible for submitting a signed memorandum of agreement (MOA) from each partnering organization. Partners may include, but are not limited to, community health centers, hospitals, behavioral health centers, mental health centers, law enforcement, schools, prisons, faith-based organizations, trade associations, emergency medical services, gun shop owners, and other social service organizations.
MFH recognizes organizations that are selected to receive funding may have varying levels of experience with suicide prevention work. As needed, the Foundation is prepared to provide awarded organizations assistance and guidance from consultants with expertise or working knowledge based on the targeted population and/or strategies being proposed through the planning process. Applicants should identify needed support/resources to develop the intervention to reduce gun suicides in the planning grant work plan template. Organizations receiving funding will be expected to work with external consultants identified by the Foundation to design communications messaging tailored for the targeted population and create program evaluation measures. Organizations receiving funding will also be required to participate in a Foundation-facilitated learning community with other organizations engaged in similar work. During the planning period, grantees and partner organizations should anticipate participating in two meetings each year.
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