Zero Suicide implementation goes in many directions, but we've mapped out a common path.
Though every system is unique, Zero Suicide is an achievable model that offers flexibility in implementation.
Zero Suicide is not only an aspirational goal to excite health care teams, it is also achievable. The elements of the Zero Suicide framework are doable with strong leadership and an engaged, dedicated implementation team. Though adverse events may still occur, a learning organization that sees suicide as a never event will derive lessons learned and build new opportunities from that tragedy so that other staff, patients, and their families may not have to experience that pain.
Steps Toward Zero Suicides
“When you design for zero, you surface different ideas and approaches that, if you’re only designing for ninety percent, may not materialize. It’s about purposefully aiming for a higher level of performance.”
Dr. Thomas M. Priselac, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Is Zero Suicide right for my system?
Is adopting the Zero Suicide framework right for your system? Consider these questions:
- Is suicide care and personal safety a core priority of patient care for your system such that individuals at risk for suicide feel safe, supported, and cared for regardless of which door they enter?
- How do you know you are not missing someone in your current screening or care protocols?
- Is everyone in your agency comfortable, competent, and well prepared to recognize, respond, and manage suicide risk?
- Do you have a just culture now?
- How do you maintain a healthy and compassionate staff, given the ever-growing time pressures and emotional demands of working with individuals with suicide concerns?
- How do you ensure care is timely, coordinated, and discussed by all providers for high-risk patients?
- What data are you already collecting about suicide deaths and behaviors? How do you know you aren’t missing anyone?
- Is there room for improvement with regard to any of the above?
How can my system start Zero Suicide with fidelity?
Designing for zero requires systems engineering practices that examine systems and processes. Health care systems engineering practices embrace increasing efficiency, reducing errors, and improving access and overall quality of health care. No matter the agency or setting, being successful at implementing and sustaining a Zero Suicide approach requires leadership commitment that includes a sense of urgency, an implementation team that has the autonomy and authority to make systems changes including training in these practices, and champions who will chaperon the process.
Membership on a system’s Zero Suicide implementation team should include:
- Representative from executive leadership
- Well-regarded clinical leader(s)
- Lived Experience (Attempt and loss survivors)
- Performance improvement or evaluation expertise
- Information Technology staff
- Safety and/or risk management staff
What other guidance is out there?
Visit the Quick Guide to Getting Started for more information about how to start a Zero Suicide initiative.