Physicians Hall Front

Kubly Family Invests $5 Million to Establish a Suicide Prevention Research Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Sep. 23, 2022 – Mrs. Billie Kubly is investing $5 million to accelerate efforts to prevent suicide and increase access to behavioral health programs for patients and families at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). The contribution establishes the Dr. and Mrs. Michael C. Kubly Community-Based Suicide Prevention Research Program and will be used to address the ongoing suicide crisis in the region and around the state.

Mrs. Kubly and her late husband Dr. Michael Kubly have a long history of advocacy and philanthropic investments to reduce the stigma around seeking mental health treatment and have supported the development of research-based interventions and therapies. Previous gifts to MCW included contributions benefiting families with young children in need of mental health services and establishing the Charles E. Kubly Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Kubly graduated from the Marquette University School of Medicine, the MCW predecessor institution, in 1963.

“I know that Mike would be pleased that this investment will help save lives in our community,” said Mrs. Kubly. “MCW is a trusted community partner when it comes to mental health issues and has the capacity to bring together stakeholders who will be committed to reducing suicides.”

The $5 million gift will be divided equally between two endowed funds. One fund will support a named faculty position for a nationally regarded leader to coordinate suicide prevention efforts, including research and community programming. The other fund will provide a source of income to support the work of this faculty member and others who are staffing and developing the programs and conducting new research.

The burden of suicide in Milwaukee, and throughout the country remains high. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and ranks second among individuals aged 10 to 34. In Wisconsin, suicide rates increased 40 percent between 2000 and 2017, particularly among vulnerable populations such as veterans and individuals living in the state’s urban counties.

“The pandemic has highlighted the prevalence of mental health issues in our community,” said Jon Lehrmann, MD, holder of the Charles E. Kubly Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, who sees patients at the Zablocki VA Medical Center. “The truth is that these conditions were already growing before the spread of COVID-19 and require an urgent community response.”

“Billie has been a visionary and an inspirational leader for us, and this gift will have a far-reaching impact on our community,” Dr. Lehrmann added.

The gift supports programming and research shared by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and the Division of Suicide Prevention in the MCW Comprehensive Injury Center. Terri A. deRoon-Cassini, PhD, MS, Director of the Comprehensive Injury Center, said the risk factors for suicide are complex but that these risks can be reduced through effective interventions by healthcare professionals and community-based programs.

“We know that prevention and intervention efforts work,” said Dr. deRoon-Cassini. “What’s needed is a comprehensive effort that makes the right resources available to providers and community groups engaged in this work. Mrs. Kubly’s generosity gives us an opportunity to launch this work and save lives.”

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