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Dr. Virna Little talks Zero Suicide in Healthcare

March 28, 2016

Dr. Virna Little talks Zero Suicide in Healthcare

Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-R, SAP, the Institute’s SVP for Psychosocial Services and Community Affairs, contributed to a document called Zero Suicide: An International Declaration for Better Healthcare. The document was developed by a group of participants in the September 2015 International Initiative of Mental Health Leaders (IIMHL) match event. The IIMHL, a collaboration of 8 countries, focuses on improving mental health and addiction services. Below, Dr. Little shares why this document is so important.


What is Zero Suicide?

It is the belief that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral systems are preventable. We believe through systemic and comprehensive changes in healthcare – we can prevent suicides. It is a lofty goal, but it is achievable.

Tell me about the Zero Suicide in Healthcare International Declaration.

It’s a call to action for providers to put processes in place to prevent these deaths. Many completed suicides were by individuals in primary care. Health systems should focus on leadership-driven training that focuses on people – to keep track of how many people in any given system are at risk.

Why is this so important?

If ever there was a time to do something, it would be now. The global implications are huge. Globally we lose 800,000 people per year to completed suicides, 40,000 a year in the United States. We want to change the perception that these deaths are not preventable.

What are the goals of the Zero Suicide in Healthcare International Declaration?

The goal is to bring suicide prevention to the attention of providers. To show them that there is not only a human cost, but financial. The systems changes that we are suggesting would help eliminate these costs. The Institute will continue to try to make system changes to achieve Zero Suicide from the macro level to the more micro provider level.

Seeing the number of suicide deaths in our community skyrocket has been very troubling.  As an FQHC behavioral health provider, I don’t see how not to respond to this call to action. We are committed to achieving Zero Suicide.

Where can providers find more information about Zero Suicide?

For more information, you can visit zerosuicide.org and download “Zero Suicide: An International Declaration for Better Healthcare.”