The Sophie Fund on Monday issued a report on efforts to implement the Zero Suicide Model for suicide prevention in Tompkins County. The organization will present the report at a meeting on Tuesday of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
The report noted that The Sophie Fund submitted a proposal to the coalition on December 7, 2017 calling on it to establish a committee made up of representatives of the community’s main health and behavioral health providers to promote and coordinate the implementation of the Zero Suicide Model.
The Zero Suicide Model, sometimes called the “Suicide Safer Care Model,” holds that suicides can be prevented by closing cracks in healthcare systems—that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable.
Zero Suicide means making suicide prevention a core responsibility of healthcare. Specifically, this entails a systematic clinical approach in healthcare systems—training staff, screening for suicide ideation, utilizing evidence-based interventions, mandating continuous quality improvement, treating suicidality as a presenting problem—and not simply relying on the heroic efforts of crisis staff and individual clinicians.
The Sophie Fund, along with Ithaca’s Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service and the New York State Suicide Prevention Office, organized a four-hour expert briefing on Zero Suicide for Tompkins County’s senior healthcare leadership on October 16, 2017 at The Statler Hotel.
The 11 invited and participating healthcare leaders represented the Tompkins County Mental Health Department; Cayuga Medical Center; Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca; Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Cornell University; Ithaca College; and Tompkins Cortland Community College.
According to the Sophie Fund’s “Report on the Zero Suicide Model In Tompkins County,” in December 2017, and in January and March 2018, The Sophie Fund asked the Statler participants to make commitments to implementing Zero Suicide and to conducting an annual self-assessment study monitoring implementation.
“While The Sophie Fund is encouraged by the generally positive responses it has received from all the Statler participants, it must report that to date none of the healthcare organizations has notified The Sophie Fund of a formal decision to make the commitments,” the report stated.
Zero Suicide is at the heart of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, released by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The NSSP’s Goal 8 is to “promote suicide prevention as a core component of healthcare services.” Goal 9 is to “promote and implement effective clinical and professional practices for assessing and treating those at risk for suicidal behaviors.”
Zero Suicide is explicitly embraced by the New York State Suicide Prevention Plan 2016–17, entitled 1,700 Too Many. Implementing Zero Suicide in health and behavioral healthcare settings is the first pillar of the suicide prevention strategy outlined in the plan. The second pillar is to “create and strengthen suicide safer communities.”
More than 40 representatives from local mental health organizations established the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition last July to foster greater collaboration and coordination in fighting suicide.