The University of Wyoming has been awarded two separate grants aimed at tackling major health epidemics.

One grant is aimed at campus suicide prevention and the other at helping children affected by the nation's current opioid crisis.

According to a UW News release, The University of Wyoming is one of 19 colleges and universities nationwide selected for the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant. The grant is named in memory of Smith, an Oregon college student who took his own life in 2003.

Lena Newlin, Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center assistant director at UW, said the university's Lifesavers Coalition -- UW’s comprehensive suicide prevention program -- was notified Monday of the grant. The funding is to be made available immediately and will be distributed as $102,000 per year for three years, totaling over $305,000.

Newlin said the first step is using a portion of the funding to hire a project coordinator.

"It's something we have been working on for a long time and this grant helps us move forward," added Newlin.

The proposed UW suicide prevention program includes strategies for identifying those at risk, performing substance use screenings, undergoing self-compassion education, and promoting resources like the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK), the Sources of Strength Program, and the Laramie Suicide Prevention Hotline (307-977-7777). The Lifesavers Coalition will also look to update UW's crisis response protocol and referral system.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists Wyoming, as of 2016, as 3rd highest in the nation for suicides per state. The AFSP also says that suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state for ages 15-44.

The second grant, given to the University by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), was given to the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) to develop care giving strategies for children affected by opiates -- specifically addressing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) -- in Project Supporting Children of the Opioid Epidemic (SCOPE).

A UW release on the grant says "the initiative is intended to link research to practical application" and to "provide opportunities to share knowledge" for future intervention models.

The Nisonger Center at Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities will partner with WIND to provide a curriculum that includes current research on developmental outcomes of prenatal exposure to substances and strategies for caregivers.

More information on the AIDD grant can be found at, and more on the Garrett Lee Smith grant can be found by contacting Lena Newlin at (307) 766-3418.


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