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VISN 2 Center for Suicide Prevention

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Education and Dissemination



Messaging & Media

Behavioral Autopsy

Education and Dissemination Goals & Objectives

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The dissemination of information is critical for on-going improvement and improved care delivery. The VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention supports the dissemination of information and education in the area of suicide prevention, suicide awareness and public health messaging around suicide.

Specifically, Education and Dissemination is responsible for:

1) the development, delivery, and evaluation of Veteran population specific training related to suicide awareness and treatment strategies for Veterans with suicidal behaviors for non-clinicians and community outreach, including clergy and community organizations;

2) ongoing education and training of VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators in the use of the Suicide Attempt and Completion Application and all aspects of their jobs at the direction of VA Mental Health Services;

3) ongoing training to VA clinicians, targeting enhancing clinical skills concerning how to conduct suicidal assessments, safety planning, documentation, and management of suicidal Veterans;

4) providing ongoing professional education presentations developed in conjunction with local, VISN 2, and national EES guidance to internal VA and external audiences at professional and scientific meetings;

5) dissemination of new knowledge and the most current information on best practices and evidence based practices acquired through the Center’s research activities; and

6) management of the VA Behavioral Autopsy Program including Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) training and education around the program, medical record reviews, family and clinician interviews and on-going analysis of findings.

As with all CoE activities, the CoE Executive Committee has ensured that all education activities are consistent with clearly identified Center education/clinical goals and support the implementation of VA Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook and the FY 11 – 13 Mental Health Initiative Operating Plan: Improve Veterans’ Mental Health (IVMH). The Education Core works closely with VHA Mental Health Services and the Office of Mental Health Operations to disseminate new policy and guidelines in the area of suicide prevention such as the VA / DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Suicide.

Resources and Products

Resources and Products ImageResources and Products Developed by the Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention

The Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention has developed a number of products for use by educators, clinicians and researchers. These range in product type from educational programs in VA's Talent Management System (TMS) to training DVDs and pocket cards. The links below will take you to these resources:

Veterans Crisis Line: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established a national suicide prevention crisis line to ensure Veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. Veterans can call the Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and press "1" to be routed to the Veterans Crisis Line. You can also visit the Veterans Crisis Line Website by clicking on this link or by clicking on the Veterans Crisis Line Badge on the left side of this page.

Women Veterans and Suicide--Web Based Training: The intent of this Talent Management Ststem (TMS) based training is to supplement the Suicide Risk Management Training for Clinicians by providing gender related information important to the assessment and prevention process for women Veterans who may be at risk for suicide. The course content includes: (1) background of the problem women Veterans and suicide; (2) information related to gender differences in suicide; (3) information about the characteristics of female Veterans as compared to the general female population; (4) an overview of general female statistics Veteran vs. non-veteran; (5) information related to risk factors for suicide; (6) information about protective factors; (7) a brief overview of clinical interventions/treatment options; (8) information about associative concerns military sexual trauma (MST) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); (9) information about myths and misinformation; and (10) information regarding safety plans and relevance to suicide prevention.

To order this training contact:
Jane Wood, RN, MSN
Phone: (585) 393-7665

Operation S.A.V.E. Training: Operation S.A.V.E. will help you act with care and compassion if you encounter a person who is suicidal. The acronyn SAVE summarizes the steps needed to take an active and valuable role in suicide prevention. The training materials can be accessed here: INSERT URL HERE.

Department of Veterans Affairs Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians: This pocket card is a quick reference guide which summarizes the 6 steps involved in the development of a Safety Plan. To access the Quick Guide click here: Safety Plan Quick Guide for Clinicians

TIP 50 Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Substance Abuse Treatment: This training DVD is based on the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA's manual and provides substance abuse counselors and superviors practical ways to assess and treat high-risk clients. A core strategy called "GATE": Gather Information, Access Supervision, Take Action and Extend the Action is outlined.

To order this training contact:
Jane Wood, RN, MSN
Phone: (585) 393-7665

TIP 50 TMS link:

Increase Your Suicide Prevention Skills with Older Veterans: This Talent Management System-based trining program is a supplement to the previous "Suicide Risk Management Training for Clinicians." It provides geriatric related information that is important to the assessment and prevention process for individuals who may be a risk for suicide. The target audience includes full-time, part-time and intermittent employees engaged in patient care as physicians, psychologists, nurses, and social workers, or employees serving in the capacity of case managers or Vet Center team leaders, etc.

At the conclusion of this educational program, learners will be able to:

1) identify the prevalence of suicide among older Veterans;
2) recognize the risk and protective factors for suicide among older Veterans;
3) describe how protective factors interact to determine the overall risk;
4) assess the risk for suicide among older Veterans; and
5) identify strategies and resources to prevent suicide among older Veterans.

Suicide Risk Management Training for Clinicians: This knowledge based program provides an overview of information regarding suicide and suicide prevention.

Topical discussions include:

1) Suicide as a social and medical issue;
2) Suicide assessment;
3) Systemic and environmental issues; and
4) Safety planning.

The primary intent of this guide is to provide information so clinicians would be able to recognize and bring into treatment Veterans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. The goal is to promote the concepts that “Suicide is Everybody’s Business” and everyone should have a commitment to “Suicide Prevention”.  Suicide has become a major concern to the healthcare community in general and to the VA healthcare community in specific, due to its prevalence in our patient population.  All clinicians should know the suicide risk factors, the safety nets needed to manage the prevention of suicide, support systems and referral resources.

Target Audience: The target audience includes mental healthcare providers, primary care providers and other clinicians who are involved in direct patient care such as psychiatrists, physicians, psychologists, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, and social workers.

To access this online training, go to the TMS Website and then type in the program's title in the Search Catalog field.

Resources and Products from Other Sources

The following resources provide additional suicide prevention information:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the nation's suicide hotline. Its website also provides information on suicide prevention. Click here to visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA): The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. Click here to visit the suicide prevention information on the SAMHSA Website.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC): The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is the nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. It provides technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of suicide prevention practitioners and other professionals serving people at risk for suicide. It also promotes collaboration among a variety of organizations that play a role in developing the field of suicide prevention. Click here to visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center's Website.

VA's Mental Health Website--Suicide Prevention: VA hosts a very comprehensive Mental Health Website. This link will take you to the VA's Mental Health Website's suicide information section. Click here to visit VA's Mental Health Website.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Knowledge Network:The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything the Foundation does. Click here to visit the AFSP's Website.

American Association of Suicidology: "The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is a membership organization for all those involved in suicide prevention and intervention, or touched by suicide. AAS is a leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training, the development of standards and resources, and survivor support services." Click here to visit the AAS's Website.

The Means Matter Campaign: Harvard University's School of Public Health supports a initiative devoted to reducing suicide by reducing a suicidal person's access to lethal means, especially firearms, during a suicidal crisis. The Means Matters Website contains research summaries, practical strategies, slide shows, brochures, state survey results, state data, and program examples. Click here to visit the Means Matters' Website.

Suicide Prevention Resources Available in Multiple Languages: The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is dedicated to preventing suicidal behavior, to alleviate its effects, and to provide a forum for academicians, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors. Brochures, flyers and other information are available for download in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Click here to access the Helping Someone Translations

Interactive Stories of Hope and Recovery: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has launched the "Lifeline Gallery: Stories of Hope and Recovery," in which users can easily create online representations of themselves as a way to enable suicide survivors, suicide attempt survivors, and suicide prevention supporters to share their stories of hope and recovery. Click here to access the Lifeline Gallery: Stories of Hope and Recovery

A strong public health mission of the Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CoE) is to provide awareness and education in the area of public health messaging about suicide. The goal is to be honest, transparent and hopeful while not normalizing or glorifying suicide. This is critically important in the Veteran population. The CoE is working with the Action Alliance and Poynter Institute to educate media both internal to VA and external. The CoE supports the American Association of Suicidology Media Guidelines.

This link will take you to a copy of those Media Guidelines.

Behavioral Health Autopsy Program

The CoE manages much of the data pertaining to suicide events and related self-directed violence behaviors in VA. In addition to maintaining this database for VA Mental Health Services, one of the missions of the CoE is to provide information back to the field in order to improve systems and services. One of the ways this is done is through the Behavioral Health Autopsy Program (BHAP).

The VA obtains information on the characteristics and outcomes of suicide and suicide attempts from multiple sources including: Root cause analyses and issue briefs Suicide Behavior Reports entered through the Suicide Prevention Applications Network Linkage of VA administrative records and mortality data obtained from the National Death Index Information obtained from state mortality records (including data on all reported suicides between 1999-2011)

Data from these sources are managed by the Suicide Prevention Program and used to inform recommendations for program modifications and identify potential barriers to care. Routine reporting on suicide, suicide attempts, and facility characteristics are managed through a collaboration between the VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention and the North East Program Evaluation Center, one of the evaluation centers operated by VA's Office of Mental Health Operations.

The Suicide Prevention Program has expanded its efforts to collect systematic data on all deaths from suicide by implementing a Behavioral Health Autopsy Program. The Behavioral Health Autopsy Program, informed by Psychological Autopsy methodologies, will include reviews of clinical records, search of public records files, and interviews with family members and the last clinician on record.

Phase 1 of the Behavioral Health Autopsy Program has started and involves in-depth chart reviews. Phase 2 of the program consists of interviews with family, friends, and providers. The family and friends interview process has begun. And Phase 3 will involve conducting formal psychological autopsies in a number of specific sites.