Make an explicit commitment to reduce suicide deaths

Involving People with Lived Experience

Until recently, the field of suicide prevention has rarely tapped the first-person knowledge of suicidal behavior and real-world wisdom that suicide attempt survivors bring to the table. The field, along with health and behavioral health care organizations, is now beginning to engage the people with the most intimate information about suicidal thoughts, feelings, and actions—those who have lived through such experiences.

The Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recently issued the report The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights from Lived Experience. The report offers a set of core values to inform suicide prevention and care as well as specific recommendations for health and behavioral healthcare organizations and program developers.

For the organization developing a Zero Suicide approach, one of the first actions should be to partner with people with lived experience in developing, implementing, and evaluating efforts. For example, a Zero Suicide Implementation Team should include at least one person with lived experience.

Suggestions for Involvement

The Way Forward suggests several ways in which people with lived experience can be involved in improving suicide care:  

  • Suicide prevention and behavioral health care organizations can engage, hire, and/or collaborate with peer support professionals. They should also include attempt survivors as key partners in suicide prevention efforts.
  • Providers of crisis or emergency services can develop formal partnerships with organizations that offer peer support services and especially organizations that are operated or driven by people with lived experience.
  • Suicide prevention and behavioral health groups can engage attempt survivors as partners in developing, implementing, and evaluating efforts.
  • All types of providers can use a certified peer specialist on care coordination teams. This involvement can have direct benefits for a person receiving care, including role modeling and improved problem-solving.1


What is Zero Suicide?
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Suicide Care in Systems Framework
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A #ZeroSuicide World: Interview with David Covington
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The Power of Zero: Steps Toward High Reliability Health Care
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Suicide as a Never Event in New York State
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Quick Guide to Getting Started with Zero Suicide
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Zero Suicide Organizational Self-Study
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Zero Suicide Work Plan Template
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Sample Letter to Staff Announcing Adoption of Zero Suicide Approach
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SPRC and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention are able to make this web site available thanks to support from Universal Health Services (UHS), the Zero Suicide Institute at EDC, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (grant 1 U79 SM0559945).

No official endorsement by SAMHSA, DHHS, or UHS for the information on this web site is intended or should be inferred.