Department of Human Services Highlights Research and Resources Aimed at Preventing Suicide

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) today released the latest issue of the Positive Approaches Journal, which aims to provide the most recent research and resources for people with mental health and behavioral challenges, intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities to live an everyday life. This edition focuses on recent research regarding suicide risk and prevention and highlights the work stakeholders are doing across the Commonwealth to reduce the incidence of suicide.

“DHS works to ensure all Pennsylvanians have the services and supports they need, especially access to the care that is essential in the fight to prevent suicides. By providing resources and directing help to those who need it, we can save lives,” said DHS Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh. “We hope this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal can provide more information to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians.”

The journal is a collaboration of DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and collects resources, observations, and advancements in mental and behavioral health in order to better serve people in their communities.

This edition features research and articles on the following:

  • Data Discoveries: This article discusses implementation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, how the lifeline can help people in crisis, and resources available for those with dual diagnoses of autism or intellectual disabilities and mental health issues.

  • Unintentional Harm is Still Harm: This article talks about how thoughts of suicide or a mental health crisis might present differently in autistic people and urges health professionals to meet them where they are as individuals with their own unique needs.

  • From A Suicidal Youth to Working in Youth Suicide Prevention: An Outline of the Pennsylvania Garrett Lee Smith Grant: This article discusses the five-year Pennsylvania Youth Resource for Continuity of Care in Youth Serving Systems and Transitions project, and how researchers are working with counties in Pennsylvania to ensure continuity of care across systems for youth and teens at risk of suicide.

  • The Power of Belonging: How to Create Supportive Learning Environments That Reduce Suicide Risk: This article highlights the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools and its work with school communities and vested partners to advance and sustain equitable trauma-informed learning environments that promote and support the well-being of all students and staff.

  • Suicide, Self-Harm & Risk-Taking: The Tragic Dangers that Social Media Poses to Children: This article from the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance discusses what parents and families can do to ensure their children remain safe, healthy, and protected in this digital era.

  • Alone: Suicide Prevention in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections: In response to recent clusters of suicides within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) facilities, this article reviews suicide data within corrections facilities and outlines numerous transformative revisions to PDOC’s suicide prevention efforts.

  • More Health Care System Interventions Needed to Curb Veteran Suicide Rate: This article addresses the higher-than-average suicide rate among veterans and details evidence-based preventive measures and interventions that can help save veterans’ lives.

  • The Role of the Gatekeeper in Reducing Veteran Suicide: This article outlines a University of Pittsburgh program that aims to reduce veteran suicide by pairing veterans with gatekeepers – individuals who can recognize a crisis and the warning signs of someone possibly contemplating suicide.

  • Recent Research Points to a Clear Conclusion: Autistic People are Thinking About, and Dying by, Suicide at High Rates: This article outlines recent research that shows that people with autism are more likely to die by suicide and outlines priorities for research and government efforts to combat this.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or visit and click on the chat button.

Read this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal.

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DHS Media Contact Details

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Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
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Ali Fogarty

Communications Director Department of Human Director 717-425-7606
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Brandon Cwalina

Press Secretary Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media