The term ‘Zero Suicide’ is being used more and more in the mental health sector. This fast-growing global initiative aims to prevent people dying by suicide while under the care of a healthcare provider. Zero Suicide believes that these deaths are preventable and are encouraging providers to improve their systems.
We’re taking a closer look at how different countries are approaching the Zero Suicide goal.
Zero Suicide in the United States
In the US, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has set an ambitious goal of zero suicides for health, clinical, and primary care providers to work towards.
Zero Suicide is a project of SPRC, and they are targeting any healthcare system that can assess, monitor and treat people who are at risk for suicide.
The project wants healthcare providers to look at their current system of care and find ways to improve it. They emphasise that it is a system-level approach and the goal is not put in place to blame individuals. Zero Suicide is there to make sure no patient falls through the cracks, while also committing to support the clinical staff.
The Zero Suicide project has developed resources to help organisations get started, including a website and toolkit.
Zero Suicide in the United Kingdom
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in the UK, Jeremy Hunt, recently said that the National Health Service (NHS) should be aiming for zero suicides. He described the suicide rate as a litmus test for the overall quality of care.
The Zero Suicide ambition will be focussing on reducing suicide among patients who are in contact with the NHS. Each mental health facility will be required to draw up detailed suicide prevention plans. These plans will include improved patient monitoring, quicker access to crisis care, better data collection and extensive staff training.
Similar to the Zero Suicide initiative in the US, the Minister wants to move from a blame culture to an open culture where everyone can learn from mistakes. Pilot schemes are already being trialled across England.
Zero Suicide in Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia supports the Zero Suicide International Declaration and in Queensland the Gold Coast Mental Health and Specialist Services (GCMHSS) is trialling a Zero Suicide framework. The service-wide framework is focusing on high-quality training for staff, a pathway of care to identify risk, and interventions that directly target suicidality.
GCMHSS has developed a suicide prevention strategy that sets out the actions to implement Zero Suicide. They have already delivered training to over 500 staff members at various levels and have included the training in their new employee orientation process.
Zero Suicide is an ambitious target, but it has been shown to work. According to SPRC, organisations who have used the approach had a 60-80% reduction in suicide rates among those in care.
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