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An organization is looking to apply for a grant to help with suicide prevention and substance abuse in Sheridan County

Sheridan County Prevention

A prevention organization in Sheridan County could possibly receive outside funding in their efforts to combat suicide and substance abuse. Sheridan County Prevention, which provides community education, resources and training to help with suicide prevention – in addition to drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse – is applying for a grant from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America next year.

“The grant that we are looking to apply for next year around this time frame is called the Drug Free Community Grant. It's administered out of the CDC, [the] Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention],” said Ann Perkins, Sheridan County Community Prevention Manager. “It would potentially bring another quarter of a million dollars, $125,000 a year for up to five years. And then there is a process to apply for another five years, so up to 10 years possibly of funding to use that money in our community as we see fit to address problems that we are looking to solve.”

The grant would require that Sheridan County Prevention broaden its scope for the money to be awarded. The county organization currently focuses on suicide prevention and mental health, but partnerships with other local organizations – such as Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness – are being looked at to create a more comprehensive effort called “Healthy Sheridan County.” Perkins said these funds would help to further these objectives.

“With suicide, we are doing lots of different things. We have gatekeeper training, such as QPR Question, Persuade, and Refer, which is a one hour training that people can take to look for the signs and symptoms of suicide,” she said. “I do an ASIST training, which is another two-day training for community members, and that's where some of my funding goes [from local sources], so that is free to community members. And that's a more intense training that goes beyond just looking for signs and symptoms. We have Sources of Strength, which is an evidence-based prevention program in all three of our [school] districts, which I'm very proud of.”

There are 12 sectors that are required for the grant, which involve parents, the local business community, religious organizations, government agencies, law enforcement and substance abuse organizations, among others. The Sheridan Police Department has also undergone crisis intervention training, or CIT, to better work with those experiencing a mental health crisis.

“This grant is, it is designed so that it is not the person who's getting paid doing all of the heavy lifting," Perkins said. "It really is that community effort, which makes it unique.”

Even with improvements and more community involvement, there is still work to be done to reduce suicide and to encourage people to seek out help when going through a crisis.

“That's a hard thing to do in a state like ours where we pride ourselves on our independence and our pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps,” she said. “Teaching those help seeking behaviors is really important.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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