The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, recognized Wellstar as the only system in Georgia and one of 25 nationwide
to be awarded funding as part of a $2 million grant from the Biden-Harris Administration.

The grant falls in the Cooperative Agreements to Implement Zero Suicide in Health Systems in the
form of an intervention and prevention model for adults throughout Wellstar’s health system.

Wellstar launched a system-wide suicide prevention program in 2017 when the Behavioral Health
Service Line adopted the national best-practice Zero Suicide Initiative framework developed by the
Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention. During the
earliest phases of implementation, Wellstar invited national experts from the SPRC to advise on
best practices, hosted a series of focus groups with various Wellstar medical specialties and
departments, conducted an organizational needs assessment and convened a Zero Suicide Oversight
Steering Council to oversee the development, implementation and fidelity of the program.

Since the initial 2017 launch, Wellstar’s Suicide Prevention Team has implemented an improved
suicide screening process for all Wellstar emergency departments and medical floors.

These experts have also routinized collaborative safety planning to ensure safety interventions are
initiated at the onset of the patient encounter and throughout the duration of care.

Wellstar’s receipt of the SAMHSA grant builds on the system’s established infrastructure through
the provision of additional educational resources to healthcare clinicians and the community.

It also increases access to evidence-based treatments shown to reduce suicidal thoughts.
Specifically, funding will enable follow-up care for high-risk adults who are struggling with
suicidal thoughts and/or have experienced a recent suicide attempt.

Through this grant, SAMHSA aims to aid the program in continuing to reduce suicide ideation,
suicide attempts and deaths due to suicide.

At least 5,000 patients across six Wellstar hospitals and emergency departments will receive care,
including residents in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Harris, Paulding, Polk and
Troup counties.

As published in Cobb Business Journal, December 12, 2023