SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Upstate Medical University now has the money to create the region’s first Suicide Prevention Center because of a $1.1 million grant awarded by the federal government.

The allocation was recently announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The money won’t go towards construction of a facility. Instead, it will be used to centralize coordination and cohesively expand programs already existing at Upstate.

Dr. Robert Gregory explained, “So that someone, for instance, coming to the ER, there’d be someone saying: ‘These are the issues going on. Here’s a recommendation for where to go and make it as easy as possible to get there.'”

Gregory founded Upstate’s Psychiatry High-Risk Program in 2017, which has been deemed a “best practice” by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Gregory plans for the center to help get people to appropriate treatment, whether it requires a hospital emergency or outpatient therapy.

He said: “Hospitalization is not the solution. The solution is to provide high-quality, evidence-based care that can provide healing instead of management and Band-Aids. That’s really where I’d like to see the center going.”

According to Gregory, suicides of young people have doubled in ten years. Upstate has tried to grow its services too, including adding much-needed pediatric hospital beds for mental health emergencies and an outpatient therapy center in 2020.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “I hope to expand from here.”