State suicide prevention programs play a critical role in providing consultation and training to local health departments and many others at the state and local levels.
Ensure the ability to plan, provide, and evaluate guidance for state, county, and local efforts
The lead organization or a designee should be able to assess community needs (via state-level data and/or community needs assessments), provide the needed assistance, and evaluate the outcomes of their assistance. With fellow state divisions’ efforts, the designated lead should help to build leaders’ capacity as well, and senior agency leadership should support the designee’s expertise and guidance.
While specific needs will vary by audience, at a minimum, the state should be prepared to provide consultation and training on major topic areas on which local and state suicide prevention efforts are likely to need support. These include the following:
- Data collection and surveillance
- Evidence-based interventions
- Postvention (see Build)
- Strategic planning
Other key topics for consultation and training are lethal means safety and effective messaging. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Transforming Communities report provides useful guidance on community suicide prevention-focused topics. State leaders should also help local efforts learn about available evidence-based trainings (e.g., for mental health providers, community members, first responders, etc.) and get guidance on questions. Importantly, state leaders and coalitions are critical facilitators of people across the state being able to connect with each other on shared interests, such as through webinar conversations, listservs, statewide or regional conferences, and specialized meetings. Finally, the state lead must have plans and mechanisms in place for evaluating the results of these efforts.
Identify and allocate resources needed to guide state, county, and local efforts
As described in Authorize, it will be necessary to ensure that funding and staff for consultation and training mechanisms (e.g., webinar platform, websites, discussion boards, in-person meeting and training venues and logistics) are available. Linking suicide prevention to other key issues currently at the forefront of attention and for which funding is being allocated (e.g., opioid crisis, substance misuse, adverse childhood experiences) may assist in securing funds. Regarding training in particular, the ability to offer appropriate continuing education credits will enhance uptake, but requires administrative support.
In-kind resources and access to audiences and information should be sought through existing and new partners as described in Partner, as well as through non-traditional partners. With support from the state lead, these partners can help assess and meet the needs of audiences who may be otherwise hard to reach. For example, partnering with large industry/employers could yield information about their workforce’s mental health needs, could open doors for consulting on how to enact of suicide prevention-oriented policies in their workplaces, and could embed annual trainings for supervisors, employee assistance programs, and staff in industry-appropriate workplace suicide prevention training.
To further strengthen your infrastructure
Maintain an updated list of trainings that meet state requirements or recommendations
Many states recommend or require training in suicide prevention for specific professionals (e.g. teachers, school staff, health providers, etc.). Training may need to meet state requirements or recommendations with regard to the following:
- Evidence base
- Accuracy of content
- Measures of application in work environment
- Adherence to best practices
- Evaluation strength
In conjunction with national resources such as SPRC’s listing of trainings with evidence of effectiveness, and the CDC’s Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices, state suicide prevention leadership can determine criteria and offer lists of trainings that are recommended for those professionals.
Some states have convened a group of suicide prevention experts to identify a menu of trainings appropriate for particular groups (e.g., school teachers/administrators), so that the relevant professionals would have a vetted list to choose from. These lists should be updated regularly to ensure they take new research into account.