The Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention builds upon the 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, and revised in 2012.
TSPN’s response to the National Strategy document was drafted in the fall of 2002 and revised in 2004, 2006, and 2007. Following the revision of the National Strategy in 2012, a new version of the Tennessee Strategy was approved by TSPN’s Advisory Council on 2013 and revised in 2017.
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 evidence-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
A. Form and sustain public-private partnerships with the widest variety possible of community partners in suicide prevention activities, up to and including state departments and agencies.
B. Continue to engage state, county, and city government in suicide prevention efforts including the annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month proclamation effort.
C. Advocate within the General Assembly and state departments around efforts such as improved access to community-based mental health and substance abuse services and legislation on provider’s suicide care competency.
D. Educate stakeholders about state budgets and legislation that could negatively affect mental health and substance abuse services and encourage an active role in advocating for suicide prevention efforts.
E. Coordinate with other suicide prevention organizations in Tennessee, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Tennessee chapters, towards more unified efforts of suicide prevention.
F. Recruit public figures and prominent organizations to promote the cause of suicide prevention and the use of mental health and substance abuse services.
G. Coordinate with community stakeholders to provide trainings, awareness events, and materials throughout the three main regions of Tennessee. Coordinate of trainings, events, and materials will be discussed at each TSPN regional meeting with our community partners.
A. Promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) along with the statewide suicide prevention hotline (1-855-CRISIS-1) and support all local crisis centers in Tennessee which are part of the statewide crisis intervention infrastructure.
B. Encourage adequate funding of local crisis call centers and publish their phone numbers on the TSPN website and in regional suicide prevention directories.
C. Secure the cooperation of radio and television stations, newspapers, billboard companies, and all other appropriate media in promoting crisis hotlines and suicide prevention services.
D. Encourage the cooperation of faith-based alliances to publicize suicide prevention services.
E. Maintain updated region-specific resource directories that reference relevant community resources.
F. Update the TSPN website to aid in communication with the people of Tennessee on at least a quarterly basis.
G. Promote the use of social media in suicide prevention through communication of TSPN efforts and training community stakeholders in its use.
H. Conduct statewide or regional conferences and symposia to raise public awareness for suicide prevention.
A. Produce public service messages for television and radio in order to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders while promoting the concept of recovery.
B. Arrange for suicide loss survivors, survivors of suicide attempts, and professionals to offer training (including risk and protective factors) and speak to groups and individuals who come into contact with at-risk individuals.
A. Monitor references to suicide in locally originating television, radio, news media, and online content, in coordination with the national suicide prevention community, to promote better and more accurate depictions of suicide and mental illness, and to recognize portrayals that observe recommended guidelines in the depiction of suicide and mental illness.
B. Promote guidelines for responsible coverage of suicide and mental illness to journalism and mass communication schools and to news agencies.
C. Promote guidelines on the safety of online content for new and emerging communication technologies and applications.
A. Encourage the adoption of a suicide risk screening/assessment mechanism by mental health and substance abuse providers, first responders, clergy, educators, and others who may come in contact with high-suicide-risk persons.
B. Encourage development of suicide prevention programs in psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment programs, community service programs, peer support centers, and similar facilities that work with high-suicide-risk population groups.
C. Serve as a resource for agencies that work with young people and elderly, providing suicide prevention education and links to other agencies that promote mental wellness.
D. Work with teachers in public and private schools and with others who work with children to implement Jaredâ€™s Law and suicide prevention programs.
E. Encourage the implementation of suicide prevention training in Tennessee colleges and universities, and the inclusion of suicide prevention training in professional licensure requirements.
A. Encourage health care providers, especially those involved in inpatient care, home care, and discharge planning, to assess patientsâ€™ access to lethal means.
B. Partner with firearm dealers and gun owners to incorporate suicide awareness as a basic tenet of firearm safety and responsible firearm ownership.
C. Encourage discussions of lethal means and safe storage practices in well-child care encounters and in educational programs for young people, parents, and gatekeepers.
D. Partner with local drug coalitions, law enforcement agencies and civic organizations, to develop and/or implement existing educational materials to make people aware of safe ways of storing, dispensing, and disposing of medications.
A. Provide training on suicide prevention to community service provider groups that have a role in the prevention of suicide and related behaviors.
B. Promote crisis intervention, suicide prevention training, and collaborative suicide risk management for teachers in the school systems, police officers, first responders, and other community groups that have a role in the prevention of suicide and related behaviors.
C. Provide training to mental health and substance abuse providers on the recognition, assessment, and management of at-risk behavior, and the delivery of effective clinical care for people with suicide risk.
D. Develop and/or promote the adoption of core education and training guidelines on the prevention of suicide and related behaviors by all health professionals, including those in graduate and continuing education and persons seeking credentialing and accreditation.
E. Include focused education in suicide risk management and prevention at regional workshops and conferences.
F. Encourage crisis centers, faith communities, community counseling centers, and community helpers throughout the state to implement effective training programs for family members of those at risk.
G. Encourage emergency departments to refer persons treated for trauma, sexual assault, physical abuse, or domestic violence for mental health services.
A. Promote the adoption of “zero suicides” as an aspirational goal by health care and community support systems that provide services and support to defined patient populations.
B. Adopt, disseminate, and implement guidelines for the assessment of suicide risk and continuity of care for people at suicide risk in all health care and substance abuse treatment settings.
C. Encourage health care delivery systems to incorporate suicide prevention and appropriate responses to suicide attempts as indicators of continuous quality improvement efforts.
D. Establish links, collaboration, and coordination of services between providers of mental health and substance abuse services, community-based and/or peer support programs, health care systems, local crisis centers, and the families of patients to create a comprehensive and seamless network of care for people at risk for suicide.
E. Develop and/or promote guidelines on the documentation of assessment and treatment of suicide risk and establish a training and technical assistance capacity to assist providers with implementation.
A. Create protocols for postvention response following suicide deaths and with the potential for traumatizing survivors.
B. Promote the availability of postvention services by TSPN and others to the general public and institutions that may require such services, up to and including schools, colleges, and businesses.
A. Encourage the development of support groups for survivors of suicide loss, survivors of suicide attempts, and support group facilitators, and engage the support of these groups by community partners.
B. Adopt, disseminate, implement, and evaluate guidelines for communities to respond effectively to suicide clusters and contagion within their cultural context.
C. Provide and/or promote appropriate postvention response to health care providers, first responders, and others affected by the suicide death of a patient.
A. Improve the timeliness and usefulness of suicide-related vital records data from state medical examiners, coroners, and hospitals.
B. Support the establishment of local task forces that use vital records data to develop targeted prevention efforts.
C. Advocate for Tennessee’s inclusion in the National Violent Death Reporting System.
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, state, and national conferences, as well as publish such results.
B. Encourage and promote evaluations of suicide prevention programs in Tennessee, both those originating within TSPN and those of other agencies.
A. Disseminate information about effective suicide prevention programs and encourage their implementation across the state.
B. Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention in reducing suicide morbidity and mortality.
TSPN has developed an evaluation piece for the current version of the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention. It outlines the objectives TSPN, its Advisory Council, and its members will pursue in attempting to implement the revised Strategy. It is the first such piece based on the revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Questions about the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention and/or the evaluation piece may be directed to the TSPN central office.