Connecting Rural Communities

Connecting Rural Communities is a partnership promoting linkages between care providers for improving suicide prevention protocols in rural Vermont.

Connecting Rural Communities (CRC) is a unique partnership promoting improved linkages between care providers for improving coordinated suicide prevention protocols in rural Vermont. Thanks to a collective impact grant from the Community Health Investment Fund of the University of Vermont Medical Center, this important work will continue for years 2 and 3, beyond the original one year Planning Grant. This extension will improve suicide prevention efforts and access to behavioral health and health care in Grand Isle County, with a focus on culturally competent engagement with members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi. 

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control showed Vermont has the 20th highest suicide rate in America with 18 suicides per 100,000 people, and a rate growing faster than the national average. Similar to the rest of the United States, there is some data indicating a disproportionate number of Native Americans die by suicide in Vermont. Connecting Rural Communities is designed to understand specific suicide influences in one region, identify response strategies to prevent suicide, and disseminate and apply those best practices in other regions. 

Connecting Rural Communities

CRC’s work is informed by interview studies with regional care providers and members of the Abenaki community on their specific needs around health and behavioral health care.

The program consists of:

  1. creating culturally competent training materials based on one-one-one interviews and input from Abenaki partners
  2. engaging providers and community members in Umatter®, Zero Suicide, and cultural competency trainings
  3. creating coalitions and networks among community members and providers who were engaged during the planning stages
Connecting Rural Communities

The CRC collaboration includes a core group of partners to address suicide prevention: Abenaki leadership from the Indian Education Program of Franklin County’s Abenaki Title VI Parent Advisory Committee (referred to as the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi’s PAC), Northwestern Counseling and Support Services (NCSS), and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VTSPC).

The VTSPC a public-private partnership under the Center for Health and Learning with the mission of creating health-promoting communities in which people have the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and resources to reduce the risk of suicide in VT. The VTSPC coordinates the VT Suicide Prevention Coalition, which serves as a resource for suicide prevention work in VT, and developed Umatter®, a national best practice program for suicide prevention. 

On August 22nd, 47 Alburgh Elementary Staff received Umatter® Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper training. Umatter® Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training is a training that enhances an individual’s knowledge, attitudes and skills to identify other individuals at risk. It teaches lay and professional “gatekeepers” the risk factors and warning signs of suicide so they can intervene and respond appropriately. 


Suicide is preventable. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call: 


Contact: JoEllen Tarallo 802 254 6590 |