Kentucky Department for Behavorial Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

Kentucky Initiative for Zero Suicides (KIZS)
Garrett Lee Smith State

The Kentucky Initiative for Zero Suicides (KIZS) will provide safer suicide care services for youth and young adults ages 10 – 24 who are at a higher risk of suicide. Built on the foundation that suicide should be a never event among Kentucky youth, KIZS will use a comprehensive system of care approach, integrating best practices in suicide care and prevention, modeled after the U.S. Air Force Suicide Prevention Program and the Suicide Care in Systems Framework (Zero Suicide in Healthcare) report by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. This comprehensive approach will be implemented in the Adanta community mental health region (Region 14) initially and will then be expanded throughout the Commonwealth.

Zero Suicide in Systems of Care is both a philosophy and a care model. Three critical factors will lead to success: the belief and commitment that suicide can be eliminated in a population under care, by improving service access and quality and through continuous improvement (rendering suicide a never event for these populations); taking systematic steps across systems of care to create a culture that no longer finds suicide acceptable, set aggressive but achievable goals to eliminate suicide attempts and deaths among members, and organize service delivery and support accordingly; and the use of Evidence-Based Clinical Care Practice delivered through the system of care with a focus on productive patient/staff interactions.

One critical focus will be on enhancing suicide care services (screening, assessment, intervention and follow up) for youth and young adults with emotional disturbances or mental illness to create Suicide Safer Care Centers. KIZS recognizes the value of those with lived experience, individuals who have made suicide attempts, or have serious contemplated suicide, and will bring those voices to the forefront in developing suicide risk reduction and safe messaging approaches. Outreach will also target young Veterans and military families, transition-aged youth, youth involved in child-serving agencies such as juvenile justice and foster care, and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Training and resources will be made available to providers of services to these special populations throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Focus will be on increasing awareness that suicide is a preventable public health problem in Kentucky communities, increasing knowledge of warning signs and behavioral clues and improve early identification of suicide risk, referral and follow up supports. Through the bridging of clinical competency in suicide care and increased suicide prevention awareness and help-seeking the KIZS aims toward substantially reducing suicide among youth and young adults by setting the aspirational goal of zero suicides for a Suicide Safer State in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.