May 23, 2018

Suicide in the U.S. is the cause of more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer or traffic fatalities. Add in the statistic that half of all those who died by suicide see a primary care provider in the month before they die, and the role of health care providers in this public health crisis becomes clear. 

All Patients Safe is an interactive suicide prevention training program developed for health care professionals by health care professionals. The online modules show health care professionals how to integrate screening, safety and assessment tools into their day-to-day practice. To date, more than 1,500 physicians statewide have been reached, proving that suicide prevention training can be scaled-up to increase the preparedness of the workforce. 

The training includes real patient stories, sample provider-patient interactions and interactive patient exercises with feedback. Core modules focus on the needs of veterans, who are at a higher risk for suicide, as well as perinatal and adolescent populations. 

The All Patients Safe training raises the comfort level of health care professionals around the topic of suicide prevention care, but it does not stop there. It encourages professionals to have direct conversations around medication and firearms safety with all patients, to prevent suicide, accidents and  overdoses. 

All Patients Safe is helping to start critical conversations across the state about needed changes to health care systems and organizations. It also asks health professionals to take a close look at the existing protocol for suicide prevention care that exists in their organizations or health care systems and explore ways to enhance the protocols. Some health care systems in Washington state are already taking a leadership role, such as Kaiser Permanente of Washington and CHI Franciscan Health, exploring innovative models that set specific strategies and goals. 

The School’s Forefront Suicide Prevention team initially secured a planning grant from the UW’s CoMotion Innovation Fund, then teamed with UW Medicine’s Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions (AIMS) Center to develop the approach. Seattle Children’s assisted in creating course content. The successful launch of All Patients Safe—which can also be used by nurses, dentists, pharmacists and social workers in a medical setting—provides a case study in collaboration among health care specialists and organizations committed to preventing suicide.