In 2009, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network assembled the Older Adult Suicide Prevention Plan Committee, a multidisciplinary workgroup charged with developing a plan for a coordinated and focused suicide prevention effort targeting Tennessee’s older adults. The Committee used the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention (based on the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention) as its framework and consulted other plans developed in Oregon and Pennsylvania.
The Division of Health Statistics within the Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Planning, Policy, and Assessment provided data on suicidal behavior among older adults. The Committee reviewed data available from deaths, hospitalization, adult risk surveys and research literature. The group also fielded suggestions from national and local experts, older adults, and medical and social service professionals during the development of the plan. A draft of the plan for public comment was presented at “Older Lives Count: Depression and Suicide in Mature Adults” held on May 28, 2009, in Nashville. The plan was published shortly thereafter and has been updated twice since then, in 2013 and 2015.
A list of objectives and a set of action items are included for each of these strategies. While these lists of strategies are not exhaustive, they are included in order to make the objectives more concrete for readers.
While this plan represents the hard work of many contributors, a plan itself will not save lives. The challenge for the future is to take this plan and use it to galvanize and guide action in Tennessee to prevent older adult suicide.