Almost half of those who commit suicide have had a session with a primary care provider within 30 days of their death and 20 percent have had contact with mental health services, according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Surprisingly, a number of behavioral and primary health care providers have never received full training on how to assess and manage suicidal patients.
With recent technological advances, however, health care providers have potential now more than ever to become the first line of suicide detection and prevention.
Suicide Safe, a free mobile app recently released by SAMHSA, equips behavioral and primary health care providers with an easy-to-use suicide prevention tool for identifying and addressing suicide risks. The app gives health care professionals a learning tool which can help them integrate suicide prevention strategies in their practice as well as put them in an active role in addressing suicide risk among patients. So far, Suicide Safe, which had been downloaded more than 12,500 times in the first month, has reportedly been used by emergency room personnel, mental health professionals, physicians, psychologists, social workers and nursing professionals—all of whom make frequent decisions about patients’ likelihood to self-harm or commit suicide.
The tool is based on the “Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T),” which is a nationally recognized tool for suicide assessment. It also provides educational materials, evidence-based sample cases, tips on communication approaches for optimizing patient outcomes and a customizable behavioral treatment center locator for making referrals.
In conjunction with Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—both established as part of SAMHSA’s efforts towards lowering suicide rates—Suicide Safe is a strategic advancement in a whole new front, enabling health care providers to join the initiative.
Suicide Safe is available for free through the App Store and Google Play, along with an extended version for tablets by visiting SAMHSA’s website.
For additional resources, referrals, treatment information and support groups, check out SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solution’s suicide prevention guide for clinical practitioners.