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State Of Kansas Grant Helps Keep Suicide Prevention Center Open

A last-minute grant from the State of Kansas is helping a suicide prevention call center in Lawrence stay open.

Headquarters Counseling Center serves 104 of the state's 105 counties by fielding calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The organization has been struggling to stay open because of a funding crunch.

Last week, Executive Director Andy Brown received an unexpected call: It was from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services offering a $25,000 grant.

“The night that I got the call we were still sitting at $65,000 out of the $90,000 we were trying to achieve," Brown says. "Knowing that we were going to have this matching grant come through to help us make up that end goal is pretty amazing."

The grant will help the agency pay its bills, at least for now. The group has only three paid staff members, with most of the work performed by volunteers. The vast majority of the center's budget goes to recruiting and training volunteers, utility bills and other suicide prevention work.

KDADS Secretary Tim Keck says he’s had the goal of increasing efforts to prevent suicide. He says the grant is one way to do that.

“I think we need to do more to help in the effort to prevent suicide and help people address the problems they have and concerns they have that lead them to that point,” Keck says. “I know families that have had to go through that, and I see what impact it has on them. If we can help address that concern, then I feel like we have an obligation to do that."

The grant money will come from other grant programs that didn’t require as much funding as initially expected.

Keck says agency officials heard about the funding struggles at the center because of reporting by Kansas Public Radio.

The agency has asked Headquarters Counseling Center to try to match the grant with other fundraising. Brown is hoping to raise an additional $15,000 before the end of the year to match the state money. The organization is taking donations online.

“We can always be doing more in terms of our mission. Any additional funds that we raise will help us do more suicide prevention work," Brown says. "We’re out of the clear of having to close, but there’s a lot that we could still be doing down the road."

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.