This is a repost from our parent organization, the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health

Join us in taking on a Texas-sized challenge: Zero Suicides

By Bonnie Evans

[Infographics and resources available below]

In the United States, more people die by suicide each year than in car accidents. In an effort to reduce deadly car accidents, many states have enforced seat belt laws and cell phone use policies. These policies have support from local law enforcement and communities because safer roads mean reduced risks for our kids, families and friends. The public rarely attaches stigma to death by car accidents, in part because the auto industry has been effective in hosting a national conversation about improving safety standards to reduce the number of deaths by car accidents. In contrast, the mental health field still faces stigma when bringing the discussion of suicide to the table despite nearly 5,000 more people dying by suicide each year.

Bonnie Evans

Bonnie Evans

One death by suicide is one too many, and we need to do more.

Public awareness campaigns play an important part in suicide prevention by sharing vital information about suicide: there is no shame in having suicidal thoughts; suicidal thoughts do not make you a bad person nor label you as ‘crazy;’ and most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help. They help us know what to watch for and how to reach out for help for those we care about. While these awareness campaigns have a significant impact, we can’t stop at awareness. We must also ensure that individuals at risk for suicide are able to access effective treatment from anyone they may reach out to – their primary care office, a mental health clinic, an emergency room, or a crisis hotline.

There is a new movement occurring in the suicide prevention field focused on achieving ‘Zero Suicides’ within health care systems. It’s an aspirational goal but recognizes that we need to strive for the best possible care – where even one death by suicide is unacceptable. The Zero Suicide framework recognizes that we have the greatest chance to achieve this goal when we don’t depend on just one person, but rather have all aspects of the health care system ready to play their part in reducing risk.

Texas (where everything is bigger) has decided to take on one of the biggest challenges of all: Zero Suicides.

Click the photo to view the warning signs.

Click the photo to view the warning signs.

Achieving Zero Suicide will require ALL of us…

The Texas Institute of Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH) at the University of Texas at Austin is partnering with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Mental Health America of Texas, and community mental health agencies across the state to strive for this goal through the Zero Suicide in Texas (ZEST) project. This project will focus on ensuring that behavioral health providers are supported in implementing suicide best practices within their organizations. This isn’t a simple task – organizations will be bringing training to their staff, implementing screening measures, and identifying the most effective interventions to help individuals at risk enhance their coping skills and reduce their risk of suicide.

How Can You Help?

If you want to do something to prevent suicides in your community, here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Learn about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide.
  • Take part in or host a gatekeeper training in your community. If you can’t attend a live workshop, watch the online ASK gatekeeper training.
  • Join your local community suicide coalition. A list of coalitions and contact information is available here.
  • If you don’t have a coalition in your community, you can start one. Contact the Texas Suicide Prevention Council for assistance at hodgekeller@yahoo.com.

Suicide IS preventable… But to achieve Zero Suicide in Texas we need ALL of us.

If you need to talk or are concerned about someone, please call the Suicide Prevention LIFELINE at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If someone is in immediate crisis, dial 911.

Bonnie Evans is an Implementation Specialist for the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental health (TIEMH) for the Zero Suicides in Texas (ZEST) and Youth Empowerment Services (YES) projects. Email Bonnie at bonnie.evans@austin.utexas.edu and follow her on Twitter at @bonsai_evans. 

Suicide Prevention Infographic

Download the infographic.

Impact of GLS on Mortality Formatted v3

Download the infographic.

Resources:

Texas Suicide Prevention

Department of State Health Services

Mental Health America of Texas

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Action Alliance Website for Zero Suicide

Help Guide

Tips on talking to a person about suicide

Suicide Prevention

Stop Suicide

R U Ok

Center for Disease Control: Preventing Suicide

National Library of Medicine: Suicide