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Suicide Prevention Initiative Yields Encouraging Results

Nov 27, 2017 03:04PM ● By Digital Media Director

One year after implementing a suicide prevention initiative, Avera Health says is reporting significantly reductions in suicidal behavior among current and past behavioral health inpatients. 

Over the past year, Avera has been integrating behavioral healthcare into more aspects of overall care, using a quality improvement framework modeled on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s 2012 key concept, Zero Suicide.

That program, which Avera initially implemented in its behavioral health inpatient units, seeks to engage more healthcare systems to enhance commitments to patient safety and to the safety and support of clinical staff that treat those patients.

According to Matthew Stanley, DO, Vice President for Avera’s Behavioral Health Clinical Service Line, Avera has seen a 97 percent system-wide decrease in suicide attempts among behavioral health inpatients and a 98 percent reduction in ER visits by previous behavioral health inpatients in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Marshall, Minnesota. There has also been a 92 percent system-wide decrease in repeat behavioral health assessments of previous behavioral health inpatients.

Among other things, Avera is working to better coordinate behavioral health-related support for all providers using telemedicine resources like Avera eCare and the AveraNow app. Psychiatric medication consults, genetic testing and triage therapy are additional approaches that Avera is applying to stave the “silent epidemic” of suicide in the United States.

“Avera’s focus is multi-faceted and much of our effort revolves around better screening to identify patients who might be at risk, as well as early intervention and enhanced access to treatment services,” says Stanley. “We are meeting patients where they are since many people who complete suicide see a health provider in the month before their death.”