Zero Suicide Initiative

ZERO SUICIDE – A commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems.


Zero Suicide, a project of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), is a key concept of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and a priority of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.


The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and 
behavioral health systems are preventable. It presents both a bold goal and an aspirational challenge.


Vermont, in its efforts to remain at the forefront of evidence-based practice, is taking on this challenge. The 
Vermont Department of Mental Health has chosen Zero Suicide as the framework for current state efforts in health care systems. As Vermont aligns its efforts with the National Strategy, the results and successes of this growing national 
initiative in communities around the country present an opportunity to have an immediate impact on the number of deaths by suicide.


7 Elements of Suicide Care for Health and
Behavioral Health Care Systems to Adopt


After researching successful approaches to suicide reduction, the Action Alliance’s Clinical Care and 
Intervention Task Force identified seven essential elements of suicide care for health and behavioral health care systems to adopt:


  • Lead – Create a leadership-driven, safety-oriented culture committed to dramatically reducing suicide among people under care.
  • Train – Develop a competent, confident, and caring workforce.
  • Identify – Systematically identify and assess suicide risk among people receiving care.
  • Engage – Ensure every individual has a pathway to care that is both timely and adequate to meet his or her needs. Include collaborative safety planning and restriction of lethal means.
  • Treat – Use effective, evidence-based treatments that directly target suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • Transition – Provide continuous contact and support post-discharge.
  • Improve – Apply a data-driven quality improvement approach to inform system changes that will lead to improved patient outcomes and better care for those at risk.

Throughout these elements Zero Suicide emphasizes the necessity of involving survivors of suicide attempts and suicide loss in leadership and planning. As part of the state’s coordinated efforts, Zero Suicide will play a vital role for individuals under care.

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