ESSENCE Alert System

ESSENCE Alert System


The Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics, or ESSENCE, is a national syndromic surveillance system used to monitor disease trends for early detection of potential disease outbreaks. In Tennessee, the Department of Health is using ESSENCE to monitor weekly trends in suicidal behavior and identify regions/counties across the state seeing increased incidents of persons reporting to an emergency department for suicide-related behavior. In addition, TDH, in collaboration with TSPN, TDMHSAS, and other partners, has developed rapid prevention response plans for youth 17 and under and young adults aged 18 to 24 to help target prevention efforts in areas across the state seeing increases in suicide-related behavior in near real time. Over the next year, TDH will be expanding this weekly surveillance to include individuals across the lifespan, and they will also be working with TSPN during this time to develop response plans for those additional age groups (25-44, 45-64, and 65-plus). All response plans will include a list of local community health professionals who can mobilize if ESSENCE reports note an above-baseline number of people reporting to emergency departments (EDs) for suicide-related behavior, including suicidal ideation, intentional self-harm, or suicide attempts.

Each week, the Suicide Prevention Program within the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) will review reports on how many people visited a local ED for suicidal ideation or injuries related to self-harm or suicide attempts. If a certain county reports an above-average number of suicide-related visits for a certain age group, this will trigger an ESSENCE alert for that county and age group. These alerts will be issued weekly by TDH.

This project is supported by a contract between TDH and the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug, and other Addiction Services (TAADAS), which provides administrative oversight to TSPN. This project is supported by the grant number 6 NU50CE002589-02-03 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additional information about ESSENCE is available in these supplementary documents:

Sign Up

  1. Anyone interested in receiving ESSENCE alerts may sign up here. (You may sign up for as many counties as you like; if you would like to sign up for counties in both columns, you must enter your email twice. Despite the autogenerated disclaimer at the bottom of the page, you will not receive marketing emails from TAADAS, the agency providing administrative oversight for TSPN.)
  2. Fill out the form and check off the counties for which you would like to receive alerts.
  3. You will receive an email whenever an ESSENCE alert is issued for a county you selected.

(Please note that you will receive alerts for the selected county regardless of the age group involved.)

What Next?

Examples for other age groups will be posted as soon as they are available. If you have suggestions about how communities and systems can use ESSENCE alerts to promote awareness and resources, you are welcome to submit these to us at

For More Information

If you are interested in participating in planning sessions for age-specific ESSENCE rapid response plans, or if you have questions or comments about the ESSENCE system, you may reach out to either of these contact points:

Brittany Willis
Suicide Prevention Program Director

Tennessee Department of Health
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243

Misty Leitsch
Executive Director

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network
1321 Murfreesboro Pike, Suite 155
Nashville, TN 37217