Time To Introduce Detroit’s ‘Zero Suicide’ Model

On foot of the launch of National Office for Suicide Prevention’s annual report, I have called for the introduction of the ‘Zero Suicide Model’ in Irish hospitals and clinics.
This model has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of suicides in the State of Michigan in the US since 2001.
Under the Zero Suicide model, when a patient goes in to a hospital or clinic for any reason whatsoever (like a broken ankle, or a viral infection etc.) they will be asked a couple of specific questions to get a sense of the patient’s mental health.
If any issues are identified, they are then referred on to professional mental health services.
While the number of suicides in Ireland has stabilised in recent years, there is still an alarming number of people taking their own lives and self-harming, as documented by the National Office for Suicide Prevention.
According to UNICEF, Ireland currently has the fourth highest rate of teen suicide in the EU/OECD.
The introduction of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses (SCAN nurses) has been a positive step in Ireland. However, this still relies on the patient revealing their difficulties to their GP.
In recent years the system used in Michigan, has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of suicides among mental health patients, lowering them well below the national average and has become known as the ‘Zero Suicide Model’ due to its successes.
In just over a decade, the implementation of the Zero Suicide Model has resulted in a drop in suicides by mental health patients form 89 per 100,000 in 2001 down to 16 per 100,000 in 2013.
It has since received the backing of numerous health insurers and international attention from institutions such as the NHS.
By assessing all patients as having potential mental health risks, whatever their reason for their hospital visit, suicide prevention can receive a huge boost.
Engaging in a greater focus on suicide prevention in our hospitals, we can drastically reduce the rate of suicide in Ireland.

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