By Stephanie Madison, President & CEO
MHA of Rockland is embracing Zero Suicide. Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems that includes a specific set of tools and strategies. It is both a concept and a practice that works to improve care and outcomes for individuals at risk of suicide, aspiring to reduce the number of deaths by suicide to zero. The initiative represents a commitment to client safety, the most fundamental responsibility of health care, and also to the safety and support of clinical staff, who do the demanding work of treating and supporting suicidal clients.
The programmatic approach of Zero Suicide is based upon a model of eight essential elements:
1. Lead – Create a leadership-driven, safety-oriented culture committed to dramatically reducing suicide among people under care. It includes survivors of
suicide attempts and suicide loss in leadership and planning roles.
2. Train – Develop a competent, confident, and caring workforce.
3. Identify – Systematically identify and assess suicide risk among people receiving care.
4. Engage – Ensure every individual has a pathway to care that is both timely and adequate to meet his or her needs. Include collaborative safety planning and
restriction of lethal means.
5. Treat – Use effective, evidence-based treatments that directly target suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
6. Transition – Provide continuous contact and support, especially after acute care.
7. Improve – Apply a data-driven quality improvement approach to inform system changes that will lead to improved patient outcomes and better care for those at risk.
We are enormously grateful that three members of our staff have been trained in the initiative, and will be serving as our Zero Suicide Champions. Our launch has begun with an organizational assessment and a workforce survey that will result in data for analysis to improve staff training and client services. We will also be engaging in a nationwide Zero Suicide Community, collaborating with other health care and behavioral health providers, receiving technical assistance, sharing challenges and success stories. We are inspired to embrace the difficult work ahead as we continue to provide trauma informed care, reduce stigma, educate the public, and create healthier communities.