State Policies on Suicide Prevention Training for Health Care Professionals

January 25, 2019

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention recommended that all U.S. states update their suicide prevention plans to include policies on suicide prevention training for health care professionals. However, it is unclear how widely and consistently states have updated their prevention plans and adopted the report’s recommendations on suicide prevention education.

Using SPRC resources, researchers examined state suicide prevention plans to see if they included recommended updates. They also searched state legislation databases for policies related to training health care professionals in suicide prevention, assessment, management, or treatment.

As of 2017, 43 states had a suicide prevention plan that had been issued or updated since the 2012 recommendations. Two states had policies mandating and encouraging suicide prevention training for health care professionals. Eight states had a policy mandating suicide prevention education, and five states had a policy encouraging it.

While health care professionals are uniquely positioned to identify and assist people at risk for suicide, most states do not have required or recommended training to provide them with the skills needed to carry that out.

Graves, J. M., Mackelprang, J. L., Van Natta, S. E., & Holiday, C. (2018). Suicide prevention training: Policies for health care professionals across the United States as of October 2017. American Journal of Public Health, 108(6), 760–768.

Spark Extra! Learn more about state suicide prevention efforts.