The Zero Suicide Model, sometimes called the “Suicide Safer Care Model,” is a set of strategies and tools for suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems.
The Tompkins County Legislature on July 17, 2018 unanimously passed a resolution to support the Zero Suicide Model, calling on local healthcare and behavioral healthcare providers to follow the model’s systematic clinical approach to preventing suicides. A month earlier, the Zero Suicide Model was adopted by the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Zero Suicide argues 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.
As the Suicide Prevention Resource Center puts it: “The programmatic approach of Zero Suicide is based on the realization that suicidal individuals often fall through multiple cracks in a fragmented and sometimes distracted health care system, and on the premise that a systematic approach to quality improvement is necessary.”
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 also explicitly embraced by New York State’s 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.”
To assist healthcare organizations in implementing the seven fundamentals of Zero Suicide, SPRC established the Zero Suicide project offering online resources such as an organizational self-study, implementation toolkits, readings, and webinars, and an offline Zero Suicide Academy providing two-day trainings for healthcare leadership.
The New York State Office of Mental Health operates the New York Academy for Suicide Safer Care, which offers a 9-12 month program of webinars and coaching calls for organizations seeking to raise their standard of suicide care.
Watch the videos featuring presentations on the Zero Suicide Model by Michael Hogan, a developer of the model, who served as New York State Mental Health Commissioner (2007–2012), Ohio Department of Mental Health Director (1991–2007) and Connecticut Mental Health Commissioner (1987–1991).
Michael Hogan, “Zero Suicide in Health and Behavioral Health Care” (2015) [VIEW VIDEO]
Michael Hogan, “Zero Suicide in Health Care” (2014) [VIEW VIDEO]
Here are more resources related to the Zero Suicide Model:
“Report on the Zero Suicide Model In Tompkins County,” The Sophie Fund (March 26, 2018)
“Zero Suicide: Providing Suicide Safer Care in New York,” Statewide Grand Rounds Continuing Medical Education, presentation by Jay Carruthers, MD, Director, NYS Suicide Prevention Office; Michael Hogan, PhD, former NYS Mental Health Commissioner; Sigrid Pechenik, PsyD, Associate Director, NYS Suicide Prevention Office; April 20, 2016 [Listen or Download]
“Detecting and Treating Suicide Ideation in All Settings,” The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert Issue 56, February 24, 2016
“How We Dramatically Reduced Suicide,” New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, April 20, 2016