Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is a major health issue that affects people of all ages, incomes, and ethnicity. Despite suicide being preventable, it is the second leading cause of death nationally in individuals ages 10 to 34, and the 4th leading cause of death those between the ages 35 – 54. Throughout this month, AHCCCS, in partnership with suicide prevention organizations, will be drawing attention to the prevalence of this issue and advocating for the importance of mental health.

This September, the State Suicide Prevention Specialist at AHCCCS is promoting suicide prevention awareness and education events across the state, and working with state agencies and other partners to advance education and awareness efforts.

September 3, 6:30 p.m.: AHCCCS staff presents to Moms Demand at Dayspring United Methodist Church.

September 14, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: City of Mesa Police and other community advocates are hosting a suicide prevention resource fair at the Red Mountain Multi-generational Center.

September 14, 8 a.m.: 3rd Annual #YouMatter Suicide Awareness and Prevention Walk with the Havasu Community Health Foundation at Rotary Park, 1400 S Smoketree Ave, Lake Havasu City. Registration is $25.

September 18, 6 p.m.: Mesa Public Schools presents to parents and educators at Shepard Jr. High about key stress indicators in youth like anxiety, depression and suicide. Experts from Teen Lifeline, Community Bridges, and Empact Suicide Prevention Center will attend.

September 18, 23, and 25: Helios Education Foundation is hosting a public behavioral health forums in Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson to teach educators and providers about access to behavioral health services in AZ schools:

  • September 18, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel, 1600 S. 52nd Street, Tempe. SOLD OUT
  • September 23, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Drury Inn/High Country Conference Center, 300 S. Milton Rd., Flagstaff
  • September 25, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Hotel Tucson City Center, 475 N. Granada Ave., Tucson. SOLD OUT

September 20, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is hosting a tribal health symposium about suicide prevention resources at Talking Stick Resort, 1800 E Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale.

September 30, 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Suicide survivor Kevin Hines presents his personal story at the Northern Arizona Mental Health Summit, Camp Verde School Complex, 210 Camp Lincoln Rd.

Additional resources for people at risk of suicide include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-8255, a network of crisis centers dedicated to providing emotional support for individuals considering suicide and improving crisis services and awareness.


Opioid Epidemic Now a Public Health Emergency in Arizona

Opioid epidemicWith the release of 2016 statistics from Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) regarding the steady increase of opioid-related deaths in Arizona­–­790 last year and a 74% surge since 2012—the epidemic is now elevated to a public health emergency. On average, two Arizona citizens die each day from opioid abuse.

On Monday, June 5, Governor Doug Ducey issued a statewide emergency declaration that seeks to coordinate state, local, and private-sector partners in an effort to collect data and develop targeted solutions.

In a press release, AHDS announced that it will take swift action to identify ways to:

  • prevent prescription opioid drug abuse through appropriate prescribing practices,
  • develop education guidelines for healthcare providers on responsible prescribing practices,
  • expand access to treatment, especially Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and
  • reverse overdoses through the distribution of Naloxone.

CVS Health announced in May that all 195 pharmacies in Arizona will sell Narcan, a brand of Naloxone, without a prescription.

Prior to the emergency declaration, state agencies and legislators had begun to address the growing opioid epidemic. In October 2016, Governor Ducey signed an executive order authorizing AHCCCS to adopt policies necessary to limit initial opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies. AHCCCS applied for and received, as the Arizona Single State Agency for Substance Abuse Treatment, a $24.3 million formulary grant from SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to combat opioid-related deaths.  The Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Governor’s Office for Youth, Faith and Family, and state agencies ADHS and the Department of Child Safety and will collaborate with AHCCCS to implement targeted activities.

During the 53rd Arizona legislative session, lawmakers were instrumental to this effort as well. First, the Legislature passed HB 2493, a bill permitting pharmacists to dispense Naloxone or any other FDA approved opioid antagonist by standing order rather than a prescription. Dr. Sara Salek, AHCCCS Chief Medical Officer, will write the standing order. Secondly, lawmakers allocated funds in the SFY 2018 budget for five full-time positions at AHCCCS to contribute to the fight against the opioid epidemic.

The public can play an instrumental role in the effort to combat opioid-related deaths. Information about prevention, treatment, recovery resources, and many other ways to get involved is available at



AHCCCS Joins New Initiative to Prevent Veteran Suicide in Arizona

The risk of suicide is three times higher among Arizona veterans than non-veterans. That’s just one reason AHCCCS is a leadership partner in a collaborative initiative to decrease the number of veteran suicides in Arizona by increasing access to resources and support. Launched April 19, 2017, Be Connected joins public and private sector partners in an unprecedented effort help every member of our communities play an active role in preventing veteran suicide.

“Whether it’s the librarian, the home health aide, the teacher, coworker or neighbor, every person can make a difference in someone’s life. We are asking all Arizonans to help our community to be connected,” said Thomas Winkel, Director of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.

“Every person can make a difference in someone’s life.”

The Be Connected program encourages everyone to “call, match, or learn” about available resources. A 24/7 support line is available to those in crisis. A Resource Match Tool helps people find the right resources for each individual and unique family situation. Training, including in-person and online options, is also available to equip peers and supporters with the knowledge, skills and confidence to help veterans.

Other leadership partners include the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arizona Veterans’ Services, the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, the Arizona National Guard, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

Find more information about the #beconnected effort at or by contacting 1-866-4AZ-VETS or connect@arizonacoalition.orgef