Washington State Department of Health

Suicide Prevention Works!
Garrett Lee Smith State

SUICIDE PREVENTION WORKS! is a multi-faceted youth suicide prevention program for areas with high rates of suicides and suicide attempts. The key program component is a suicide attempt surveillance approach that allows for follow-up after the emergency department (ED) discharge of a suicidal youth within 48 hours. This component is complemented by clinical services, gatekeeper training, and media campaigns.

The prompt ED follow-up is made possible by an order from the county public health officer, declaring a self-harm attempt coming to the attention of the hospital emergency department to be a notifiable condition, requiring a report to the public health department within 24 hours of the ED discharge.

During the ED stay, the patient and family will be provided with education about warning signs of suicide and means restriction. As part of a thorough discharge process, signed consents will be obtained. This will allow for the involvement of an outreach specialist to ensure continuity of care after discharge. This same process will be applied to discharges from inpatient hospitalizations. After discharge, the patient and family will engage in outpatient mental health and/or chemical dependency services.

These intensive community services are complemented by extensive coverage of the community with gatekeeper training. This training will be provided to schools, juvenile justice and foster care systems, law enforcement, EMS staff, entities serving LGBTQ-youth, and tribal elders. At the college/university level, we will build on existing gatekeeper training by holding conferences that expand the current training to counseling, faculty, and administrative staff. In order to possibly export this college-level suicide prevention program, staff from all public and private colleges/universities will be invited to the conferences.

Additional facets of SUICIDE PREVENTION WORKS! include crisis plans in partnering systems, promotion of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, public awareness campaigns, strengthening existing and developing new public/private prevention partnerships, and increasing access to clinical service providers via innovative means.