The Connect Program

History of The Connect Suicide Prevention Program

Connect began as a collaboration between The Suicide Prevention Partnership, The Irving and Barbara C. Gutin Charitable Foundation, and NAMI NH (National Alliance on Mental Illness – New Hampshire Chapter).

In 1994, a legislative committee studying the issue of youth suicide in NH resulted in the formation of a coalition of organizations, agencies, and individuals interested in working to reduce youth suicide called the Youth Suicide Prevention Assembly (YSPA). In the late 1990’s, YSPA conducted surveys and listening sessions to determine what was needed in New Hampshire to reduce youth suicide.

What emerged from the survey was that no one system could effectively prevent or intervene in youth suicide. A collaborative approach was needed between multiple systems that included a framework of specific steps for each discipline to take in responding to a youth suicide event.

From this concept, the Frameworks Youth Suicide Prevention Project was started. Initial project work was done by Dartmouth Injury Prevention Center. Beginning in 2003, the Suicide Prevention Partnership contracted with The National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI NH for a three-year period to develop the Frameworks Project.

At the same time as New Hampshire was moving ahead on these issues, the issue of youth suicide was gaining momentum at the national level. The Surgeon General’s Report of 1999 identified suicide as a major public health issue and the subsequent National Strategy For Suicide Prevention (NSSP) of 2001 outlined a National Plan for improving prevention strategies.

The Frameworks Project was designed to incorporate many of the recommendations of the National Strategy. In 2004, the State of New Hampshire developed and adopted a State Suicide Prevention Plan based on the NSSP. Many of the action steps for the goals in the State Plan rely on the work of the Frameworks Project. In 2005, NAMI NH received federal suicide prevention funding through the Garrett Lee Memorial Act to provide training in New Hampshire.

The Connect Prevention/Intervention program was in the first group of programs listed on the National Best Practice Registry in 2007. Postvention was listed in 2008 and SurvivorVoices: Sharing the Story of Suicide Loss program was listed in 2011.

Connect began working outside of New Hampshire in 2006 and since then has provided training in 28 states and Ireland, Scotland and Canada.

The original name, “Frameworks”, was changed to “Connect” in 2009 to reflect the broader scope of the program and the concept that connectedness is vitally important in saving lives.

In 2009, Connect hired Antioch New England to conduct external program evaluation.

Connect received national recognition in congressional testimony from the Dept. of Defense for its work with the military in 2009 by Kathy Powers and in 2010 by Gen. Loree Sutton, M.D. The Rand Report, “The War Within” (2011) identified the Connect Postvention training as a noteworthy model.