In 2021, MHA began a process to improve the suicide care within our agency. We joine with the Zero Suicide initiative in believeing that "suicide deaths for individuals under the care of health and behavioral health systems are preventable." For agencies like MHA dedicated to improving patient safety, Zero Suicide presents an aspirational challenge and practical framework for system-wide transformation toward safer suicide care.
MHA Zero Suicide Steering Committee.
Our first step was to form a steering committee to help analyze our needs and make suggestions for moving the agency toward better suicide prevention care. Our steering committee is made up of employees from across our agency but we are not just profesionals, we are also people with lived suicide experieince. Our 13 member steering committee has disclosed the following lived experieince related to suicide.
I have had suicidal thoughts myself 6
I have attempted suicide 5
A family member has attempted suicide 4
I have lost a family memebr to suicide. 1
A friend has attempted suicide. 2
I have lost a friend to suicide 4
Our work began by revamping our current suicide prevention protocol for both consumers and employees.
For our consumers, we developed our Zero Suicide Program that allows some consumers screened at high risk for suicide to be receive treatment in the community instead of being hospitalized. Consumers are able to maintain employment, family connections, and social supports while addressing the issues causing their suicidality.
We also renewed our commitment to our employee's mental health. We must be aware of the impact vicarious trauma has on our ability to take care of others. This led to increasing trainings on self-care and suicide prevention and polcies being written directly related to protecting the mental wellness of our staff.
Our committee also identified a need to increase staff training. We approached this by increasing the number of suicide related trainings provided to staff across the agency. Additionally, we are proud to now have staff members who are trained in the following evidence based suicide prevention techniques:
QPR - Question, Persuade, Refer
AMSR - Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk
CALM - Counseling on Access to Lethal Means
CAMS - Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality.
But training our staff is not enough. We are committed to bringing suicide prevention training to anyone intereted. People at risk for suicide reach out to family members, friends, pastors, teachers, co-workers, doctors... anyone in their lives that they might listen.
MHA is proud to currently have 6 QPR trainers on staff. We are happy to bring this suicide prevention gatekeeper training to businesses, schools, or other groups across the area. We also offer QPR training several times a year for individuals. Click the links below for more information.
Statewide Suicide Coalition
Finally, we are also taking an active role in the the Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition looking at preventing suicides across our state. Our own Bailey Blair, LMSW, was recently elected the first President of this statewide group which brings together people from a variety of backgrounds including business leaders, government employees, mental health providers, and citizens with lived experieince with the goal of eliminating suicide in Kansas.