Zero Suicide Initiative

Zero Suicide Initiative

Tennessee’s Zero Suicide Initiative Task Force is working to implement the concept of “zero suicides” within behavioral health and substance abuse treatment settings across Tennessee.

Members of the Task Force, in concert with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) are working to help these agencies eliminate suicides and suicide attempts within their client base through an aggressive yet achievable action plan incorporating best-practice prevention and intervention strategies.


In 2011, the Clinical Care and Intervention Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention released Suicide Care in Systems Framework, a summary of a multi-year study of best-practice suicide prevention efforts within four different programs. The document outlined the concept of “zero suicides”. As defined in Suicide Care in Systems Framework, this concept is “the belief and commitment that suicide can be eliminated in a population under care… by improving service access and quality and through continuous improvement (rendering suicide a “never event” for these populations).

The document also recommended that health care services, behavioral health agencies, and crisis services adopt the “zero suicides” concept, and in doing so take system-wide measures that aggressively work towards the eliminate of suicide within their client base. This involves the implementation of evidence-based clinical care measures.

Following review of Suicide Care in Systems Framework at the February 12, 2014 meeting of TSPN’s Advisory Council meeting, the Council authorized creation of the Zero Suicide Initiative Task Force to pursue statewide promotion of the “zero suicides” concept within in health, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment settings across Tennessee. This Task Force will be patterned after the Clinical Care and Intervention Task Force which developed the Suicide Care in Systems Framework.

Our state is the first to attempt implementation of the “zero suicides” protocol on the statewide level, in line with TSPN’s established history as a pioneer in the area of state-supported suicide prevention.


The Task Force will take the lead working with the aforementioned agencies to set up training sessions in a best-practice suicide prevention protocol for any and all personnel who may come in contact with suicidal persons, from executives to support staff.

These training sessions will incorporate:

  1. Suicide prevention, risk assessment, and crisis intervention for all new and current staff members, with annual refresher courses provided
  2. A customized action plan that outlines which staff members are responsible for counseling and/or referral
  3. An aftercare plan that involves regular follow-up and connection to suicide attempt survivor support groups

Members of the team will help with providing technical assistance for the project and give it the momentum it needs.

TSPN’s Advisory Council will monitor progress on the project on a quarterly basis, with the objective of reaching all targeted entities by June 30, 2016.


What is Zero Suicide?
A fact sheet from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, modified with contact information for the Task Force.

Suicide Care in Systems Framework
The foundational document for the “zero suicides” concept

Zero Suicides in Health Care
The official page of the “zero suicides” project hosted by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

The Power of Zero: Steps Toward High Reliability Healthcare
Reprinted from the March/April 2013 issue of Healthcare Executive

Zero Suicide Academy Offers Health Care Organizations Approach to Care to Dramatically Reduce Suicides
Press release from the the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, issued June 23, 2014

Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention: The Role of Emergency Departments
A fact sheet from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Crisis Center Follow Up to Save Resources and Save Lives
A fact sheet from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Depression Care Effort Brings Dramatic Drop in Large HMO Population’s Suicide Rate
From JAMA, 2010, Volume 303, No. 19

HIPAA Privacy Rule and Sharing Information Related to Mental Health
A fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


This page on the TSPN website is intended not only to provide information about the Zero Suicide Initiative Task Force but also to recognize companies and agencies that have committed to participation in the project

The project is promoted via regular announcements in e-mails from TSPN’s central office and articles in the TSPN Call to Action, our monthly newsletter.

TSPN is currently seeking new organizations to participate in the Zero Suicide initiative. If your organization is interested, please email