Lawrence's Headquarters Counseling Center receives $1.4 million grant for statewide suicide prevention

Headquarters Counseling Center director Marcia Epstein closes her eyes as she listens to a Wichita caller routed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009, at Headquarters. The center recently received a $1.4 million federal grant for statewide suicide prevention efforts.

Headquarters Counseling Center director Marcia Epstein closes her eyes as she listens to a Wichita caller routed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009, at Headquarters. The center recently received a $1.4 million federal grant for statewide suicide prevention efforts. by Nick Krug

Lawrence-based Headquarters Counseling Center recently received a federal three-year, $480,000 annual grant to help reduce suicide attempts and deaths among Kansans age 24 and younger.

The grant will be used to expand prevention activities across the state and to set up a resource center and website.

“The bottom line is we want more people to know what to do when somebody is at risk of suicide,” said Headquarters director Marcia Epstein. “This grant will save lives.”

Every day, at least one Kansan dies by suicide.

It is the second-leading cause of death among Kansans between the ages of 15 and 24, while nationally suicide ranks third in that group.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 234 suicide deaths occurred in that age range between 2007 and 2010; six of them were in Douglas County.

Epstein, who also serves as co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Subcommittee of the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council, said the state has had no resources — funding or staff — dedicated to suicide prevention until now.

She said the grant will be used to hire staff, to provide mini-grants for community projects and to expand the number of phone lines and counselors answering the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 800-273-8255 — at Headquarters Counseling. The grant also will be used to provide Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, which is used by the Kansas National Guard. It helps people know how to identify the warning signs and how to get people connected with the supports they need.

“It’s a very interactive course that’s been shown to get people to actually intervene in their community, not just know that suicide is a problem but to actually do something when they encounter somebody who is at risk of suicide,” Epstein said.

Headquarters is one of 23 state and tribal organizations to receive the Garrett Lee Smith and Tribal Suicide Prevention grant this year. The grant is funded through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. Garrett was a son of U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, of Oregon, and in 2003, he died by suicide the day before his 22nd birthday.

Epstein said it was the senator’s passion to reach out to the younger population, but she said the statewide programming will have applications for all ages.

Headquarters may only use the federal grant for new statewide programming, so the 42-year-old nonprofit agency, which has an annual budget of about $200,000, will continue to rely on community donations and local grants for its services, which range from bereavement support groups to children’s safety programs. It has a 24-hour hotline that provides counseling services.

“Headquarters is much more than suicide prevention counseling, but this grant will strengthen our agency in many ways because it’s a huge opportunity and it’s a huge honor,” Epstein said.


Marcia Epstein, director of Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, says you can make a difference when someone shows signs of feeling suicidal. Here’s how:

• Listen and show you care.

• Ask the question, “Are you thinking about suicide?”

• For teens, find a trusted adult to help you both.

• For adults, find someone to be with the person and someone trained in suicide prevention to help.

• Eliminate access to firearms, large amounts of medications and other dangers.

• Never keep a secret about suicide.

• Know that suicide is never someone else’s fault.

Where to get help:

• Headquarters Counseling Center’s 24-hour service — 785-841-2345.

• National Suicide Prevention Life-Line — 800-273-8255.

• Bert Nash’s 24-hour service — 785-843-9192.

• Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room — 785-505-6100.

Tagged: Headquarters Counseling Center, suicide prevention


Scott Criqui 5 years, 8 months ago

This is great news! I am so glad to have Headquarters in our community. Thanks to the staff, volunteers, and donors that make it a possible.

pfsmith 5 years, 8 months ago

This is wonderful news. Headquarters has provided the Lawrence community with compassion for over 40 years. While we are seeing large cuts in social programs in Kansas this at least injects much needed funding not only in suicide prevention but also provides a listening ear for anyone to reach out to. The number is 841-2345.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

Say What? That much money for a Grade D operation??????

Epstein is joyouse because it insures her personal income for the next several years.

Headquarters is a joke, in an of itself: Suicide preventation??? We're joking here, right? Isn't the same people who call day in and out; night in and out? Where is Bert Nash in all of this silliness?

As for the "volunteers?: Aren't the vast majority for "resume building" or for the "support" they themselves get on the job?

Ok....nothing can be done about this grant't Headquarters be taken off the United Way list or the Douglas County dole list?

How much does Epstein get paid per annum.....given she has turned this hippie drop in center into an on going business? Does she work 40+ hours per week? Show Alceste the beef.....and Alceste don't want to read about many hours...let's see the documentation.

Headquarters days have come and passed. It's high time it was SHUT DOWN. Alceste's money says this grant is a "payoff" of some sort.....PERIOD.

Oh yes....let's add to this missive that HQ has not ability and makes no effort to correctly count the number of people who "phone them": It's the same people night in and night out; day in and day out.

It's long past time that the mental health vendor in this town take this task on....but they have no desire to be answering phone calls at 2am; etc. Too, "they" have no desire to be really involved: They're more interested in doing the standard 8 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (whatever that is??); and then having Happy Pills Rx for life (Abilify; Prozac; Paxil; Luvox; Zoloft; Lexapro; et all....).

And let's not leave out Effexor and all the other SNRI dopes out there.....

Blah, blah, blah. Headquarters is all about making certain Epstein gets a check.....a pretty dang large one at that.....given she works so few hours.....

It is what it is......shrug

Brenda Brown 5 years, 8 months ago

Ms. Epstein and all of the Headquarters staff and volunteers do great work selflessly and with dedication. This is a great advancement for an agency that provides a very necessary service for our community. Thank you Headquarters and congratulations on your grant than will keep you serving those who need help.

Lisa Rasor 5 years, 8 months ago

This is great news for Kansas, and a great honor for Headquarters Counseling Center! I'm so glad there will be more statewide suicide prevention efforts and resources. We are losing too many good Kansans to suicide every day. And we're fortunate that an independent organization like HQCC will be administering this grant.

Alceste, the combination of your bitterness and ignorance is so very sad. I'm sorry you feel the way you do, as it must be difficult to feel so angry all the time, but what you are saying simply isn't true.

HQCC is an important resource for Lawrence and for Kansas. Marcia Epstein works an incredible number of hours each week for a ridiculously low salary. The volunteer staff is very dedicated and not there just to pad their resumes. This grant is great news, but it will not fund local services nor is its purpose to provide raises for staff.

I was a volunteer at HQCC for over 20 years. Yes, that does perhaps make me biased, but at least I have some insight based on actual facts and experience of over two decades.

nsmels 5 years, 8 months ago

geez Alceste . . . who peed in your corn flakes?

Karrey Britt 5 years, 8 months ago

This grant will be used for statewide suicide prevention and Headquarters will be held accountable for it. This is a HUGE task and there's a great need for prevention efforts in our state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment just sent me the number of Kansans who died by suicide in 2011. There were 385 and seven of them were in Douglas County.

Insidestraight 5 years, 8 months ago

Alceste, taking up the pro-suicide lobby ... You did, however, have one sharp comment: "Blah, blah, blah." Too bad you needed 500 hateful, ignorant words to get there.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

muzeick 5 years, 8 months ago

Many people care about the 385 people who died by suicide and 7 people in Douglas county would be 7 too many. Muzeick knows this to be a fact.

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago

What is really curious about this article, and its subsequent "posts" are that all posters save for kbritt and Brenda_Brown had never posted on WellCommons before. Alceste believes there is an "agenda" afoot.

The posters muzeick, awoc, Insidestraight, nsmels, catiefan, Scott Criqui, and pfsmith had never posted anything within WellCommons from what Alceste can tell. Why is that? Is suicide such a burning issue?

What simple acts of kindness can prevent suicide(s)? Have muzeick awoc Insidestraight nsmels catiefan Scott Criqui pfsmith ever invited a stranger to their home to share a Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas dinner? Have they ever invited a shut in they might only marginally know to such events.....or even just a home cooked meal? Sought out same, perhaps living right next door to where they themselves live, or is it simply easier to go all non-personal help and do a "hot line" gig and cluck about how expensive it is these days to re-finish hard wood floors and such in between all those calls, which are basically from the same group of people day and night in; day and night out?

Alceste will put money that muzeick awoc Insidestraight nsmels catiefan Scott Criqui pfsmith have never really opened up their very own cartoons of milk which contain human kindness and shared same with someone who is contemplating death by their own hand; and that could be anybody....and these numbers grow as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. (And, by the way, the "for show" Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners put on in Lawrence are just that....they're for show and count for very little, really; Alceste is talking about the full spread with the family heirloom table cloth; china; silver; and crystal kind of dinner). No "grant" is going to change this stark reality. It's easier to throw money at a do nothing program which has existed in Lawrence for far too long and is simply just one of those sacred cow Wm. Clarke Quantrill things Lawrence fusses about so much. One can only assume that since the do nothing program has all the money, it'll mimic it's already antiquated and out dated "model" "across the state". Good grief.

Lawrence would be a lot more enjoyable were it not for all these self-important four flushing. Posters, for the most part, live in Kansas and Lawrence, do ridiculous things all day, come home, and then gripe at each other about who is to blame for their lot in life. Have the courage to see yourselves as you are and this "city" as it is. Try to make it better if you can, and embrace the people who share your desire to make the "city" a better place to live. Discuss things, but don't act like they are the most important darn things in the whole world. They're not. This silly little suburb is a small speck of nothing in the middle of nowhere. Don't let it be your universe. (cont.):

Alceste 5 years, 8 months ago


Suicide preventation? Try inviting somebody you may know only in passing over to your home for dinner; Somebody you don't really like or care to really know because they're not of your social standing or "crew". Somebody who may be alone and still has a small sense of pride that inhibits them from "seeking"; or somebody who has simply given up because of life's personal defeats.....despite the fact such a person may actually have a dime or three in the bank. Do we all recall the story of Richard Cory? ( ) Being alone with one's thoughts most certainly contributes to suicide....just as being in a room full of people who are "....your best buddies....." but only "small talk" every takes real discourse. Thoreough noted that most of us spend our lives filled with ".....quiet desperation....". ("The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." ) It'll go a lot further than some silly old grant to a ridiculously outdated program which is more geared toward the needs of the "staff'' that those in need......

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