Tennessee Suicide Prevention Strategy

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Strategy builds upon the eleven goals published in “National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action” printed by the Department of Health and Human Services, United States Public Health Service, Rockville, MD, in 2001.

Following each of the eleven national goals are the TSPN responses as adapted in the fall of 2002 and revised in 2004, June 21, 2006, and June 7, 2007.

The Preamble to the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention must recognize and affirm the cultural diversity, value, dignity and importance of each person.

Suicide is not solely the result of illness or inner conditions. The feelings of hopelessness that contribute to suicide can stem from societal conditions and attitudes. Therefore, everyone concerned with suicide prevention shares a responsibility to help change attitudes and eliminate conditions of oppression, racism, homophobia, discrimination, and prejudice.

Suicide prevention strategies must be evidenced based and clinically sound. They must address diverse populations that are disproportionately affected by societal conditions and are at greater risk for suicide.

Individuals, communities, organizations, and leaders at all levels should collaborate in the promotion of suicide prevention.

The success of this strategy ultimately rests with the individuals and communities across the State of Tennessee.

Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention – click each item for more information

  1. Promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem that is preventable.
  2. Develop broad-based support for suicide prevention.
  3. Develop and implement strategies to reduce the stigma associated with being a consumer of mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention services.
  4. Develop and implement suicide prevention programs.
  5. Promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means and methods of self-harm.
  6. Implement training for recognition of at-risk behavior and delivery of effective treatment.
  7. Develop and promote effective clinical and professional practices.
  8. Improve access to and community linkage with mental health and substance abuse services.
  9. Improve reporting and portrayals of suicidal behavior, mental illness, and substance abuse in the entertainment and news media.
  10. Promote and support research on suicide and suicide prevention.
  11. Improve and expand surveillance systems.

1. Promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem that is preventable.

Tennessee Response:

A. Encourage adequate staffing and funding of local crisis centers across Tennessee and publish their phone numbers on the TSPN website and in the eight regional suicide prevention directories.

B. Provide 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) as statewide suicide prevention hotline.

C. Secure the cooperation of radio and television stations, newspapers, and billboard companies to provide space for public service announcements of suicide prevention and crisis intervention services.

D. Encourage the cooperation of ministerial alliances to publicize suicide prevention services.

E. Regularly update the TSPN website, to aid in communication with the people of Tennessee.

F. Conduct statewide conferences.

2. Develop broad-based support for suicide prevention.

Tennessee Response:

A. Compile a Tennessee Suicide Prevention Resource Directory in addition to the eight regional suicide resource directories.

B. Encourage and support additional meetings of Suicide Anonymous, Survivors of Suicide, and families of survivors of suicide attempts throughout the state.

3. Develop and implement strategies to reduce the stigma associated with being a consumer of mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention services.

Tennessee Response:

A. Produce public service messages for television and radio.

B. Endorse suicide education teams composed of survivors, survivors of attempts, and professionals in each of the eight regions of the state to offer training and speak to groups and persons who come into contact with at-risk individuals.

4. Develop and implement suicide prevention programs.

Tennessee Response:

A. Maintain and update lists of existing educational programs for young people and elderly.

B. Work with teachers in public and private schools and with others who work with children.

C. Encourage development of suicide prevention programs in psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment programs, schools, correctional institutions, community service programs, and peer support centers.

D. Encourage the development of suicide prevention curricula in Tennessee colleges & universities.

5. Promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means and methods of self-harm.

Tennessee Response:

A. Develop an emergency department-screening tool to assess the presence of lethal means within a place of residence for use in inpatient care, home care, and discharge planning.

B. Encourage discussions of lethal means and safe storage practices in well-child care encounters and in educational programs for young people, parents and gatekeepers.

C. Develop educational materials to make people aware of safe ways of storing and dispensing medications.

6. Implement training for recognition of at-risk behavior and delivery of effective treatment.

Tennessee Response:

A. Encourage participation in the American Association of Suicidology Crisis Worker Certification process.

B. Promote crisis intervention and suicide prevention training for teachers in the school systems, police officers, and first responders.

C. Promote education on suicide prevention in continuing education courses for renewal of licenses in professional groups.

D. Include focused education in suicide risk management and prevention at regional workshops and the state conference.

E. Encourage crisis centers, faith communities, community counseling centers, and community helpers throughout the state to develop and implement effective training programs for family members of those at risk.

7. Develop and promote effective clinical and professional practices.

Tennessee Response:

A. Educate primary care providers about assessment tools for screening suicide risk.

B. Encourage attendance at the regional and national suicide prevention conferences.

C. Encourage mental health assessment centers and emergency departments to refer persons treated for trauma, sexual assault, physical abuse, or domestic violence for mental health services.

8. Improve access to and community linkage with mental health and substance abuse services.

Tennessee Response:

A. Provide support, through the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, to all provider and advocacy organizations across Tennessee to educate and encourage legislators to eliminate mental health and substance abuse barriers in public and private insurance programs.

B. Advocate for improved access for suicidal people and their families to community based health and substance abuse services.

9. Improve reporting and portrayals of suicidal behavior, mental illness, and substance abuse in the entertainment and news media.

Tennessee Response:

A. Conduct workshops statewide and distribute educational materials to educate media personnel in the “American Association of Suicidology/CDC Media Guidelines.”

B. Monitor references to suicide in television programs, movies, and news, promoting better and more accurate depictions of suicide and mental illness and providing public recognition of portrayals that observe recommended guidelines in the depiction of suicide and mental illness.

10. Promote and support research on suicide and suicide prevention.

Tennessee Response:

A. Encourage Tennessee colleges, universities, hospitals, and clinics to intensify research related to suicide, including cultural-specific risk factors, interventions, and protective factors, and to present their results at regional and state conferences.

B. Encourage all Tennessee Suicide Prevention Programs to publish evaluations of their work.

11. Improve and expand surveillance systems.

Tennessee Response:

A. Promote the adoption of the American Association of Suicidology/Center for Disease Control Standard Nomenclature for reporting suicide statistics in our state.

B. Encourage anonymous reporting of statistics on all suicide attempts in Tennessee .

C. Advocate for a statewide violent death reporting system that mirrors the national system, includes suicides, and collects information not currently available from death certificates.

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