Our Work

Our Work

The Suicide Prevention Center of New York (SPCNY) and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) Suicide Prevention Office divide their work into four main areas:

  1. Zero Suicide in Health and Behavioral Health SettingsHappy people working together.
  2. Suicide Safer Communities
  3. Suicide Safer Schools, Colleges, and Universities
  4. Surveillance and Data-Informed Suicide Prevention

In 2016, SPCNY and OMH released 1700 Too Many: New York State’s Suicide Prevention Plan. This plan provides a detailed description of New York State’s strategy for suicide prevention. Compliance and field office staff help to carry out various activities. A few key projects and initiatives are described below.

New Yorkers Advancing Suicide Safer Care (NYASSC) Zero Suicide Grant

New York State was the only state among three applicant organizations to receive a Zero Suicide grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) during the first cohort. This 5-year project was awarded in October 2017 to reduce suicide attempts and deaths by implementing Zero Suicide in health systems across all five mental health service regions in New York, and to create a Suicide Safer Care Network in Onondaga County by linking emergency departments, inpatient psychiatric units, outpatient mental health and substance use disorder treatment settings, and primary care practices across the county. Lessons learned at project sites will be disseminated statewide.

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Grant

The New York State Office of Mental Health received a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2014 to reduce suicide in Western New York. As one of four states to receive this grant, New York implemented a pilot project to train medical and mental health providers to integrate suicide prevention strategies into their daily practice. Over the three years of this grant, 14,268 individuals were screened for suicide risk, over half of which screened at moderate- to high-risk. Individuals at moderate- to high-risk received assessment, safety planning interventions, and structured phone follow-up.

Suicide Prevention Continuous Quality Improvement Project in Outpatient Mental Health Clinics

New York State received one of three Applied Research toward Zero Suicide Healthcare Systems grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to implement Zero Suicide in over 165 outpatient clinics serving more than 90,000 behavioral health patients. Since the inception of the project, more than 4,000 clinicians were trained in the Assess, Intervene, and Monitor for Suicide Prevention (AIM-SP) model of suicide safer care, more than 30,000 patients were screened, and more than 2,700 at-risk patients received a package of intensive, enhanced suicide-specific interventions. This is the largest implementation and evaluation of the Zero Suicide approach ever conducted in outpatient behavioral health.

Clinical Training

The New York State Office of Mental Health partners with the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia University to provide online suicide prevention training for behavioral health clinicians. These trainings include evidenced-based suicide risk screening, assessment, intervention, and monitoring. Materials from the trainings are made available through downloadable slides and resource pages at the end of each training. Training are available to all Office of Mental Health and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services providers free of charge, and most carry CEUs for a range of mental health professions. Visit our Training Options page for more information.

Addressing the Intersection of Substance Use and Suicide

The New York State Office of Mental Health partners with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on a variety of initiatives. The two agencies held the first ever Zero Suicide learning collaborative with outpatient substance use disorder treatment providers, informing the development of suicide safer care protocols being piloted in inpatient and outpatient treatment settings. A suicide prevention workgroup was formed within OASAS, representing prevention, treatment, and recovery. From this workgroup, multiple joint initiatives have formed including discussions of regulation revisions, cross consultation, promoting collaboration between suicide and substance use prevention coalitions, prevention on college and university campuses, training OASAS resource providers, and gambling and suicide risk.

 

Postvention for the Clinical Workforce

SPCNY and the Office of Mental Health partnered with New York State OASAS to develop guidelines, trainings, and resources for clinicians who have lost patients to suicide and/or drug overdose. The Traumatic Loss in the Workforce workgroup that formed out of this partnership has produced guidance documents, webinars for the mental health and substance use disorder workforces, and a train the trainer curriculum and program. More information about and access to these resources are available on the Suicide Loss of a Patient or Client page of the website.

Coalition Academy

SPCNY developed and delivered the first Suicide Prevention Coalition Academy to equip coalitions with the knowledge and skills they need to implement data-driven suicide prevention programs. Based on a pre- and post-test evaluation, there was a significant increase in the number of coalitions reporting current workplans; regular use of data to inform planning and action, mission, and vision statements; a consistent leader or facilitator; and a broad-based, multi-disciplinary group of attendees. Participants were also more likely to report having the tools to develop suicide prevention plans for their counties after they completed the Academy. SPCNY continues to offer coalitions and their partners new content through the Academy by collaborating with experts from across the state.

Suicide Fatality Review Initiative

The current system for suicide death reporting is plagued by significant problems including misclassification, underreporting, a two-year reporting lag, and incomplete information on circumstances and upstream risk factors surrounding the death. SPCNY and the New York State Office of Mental Health are piloting a suicide fatality review process which includes the use of a comprehensive data collection tool by coroners and medical examiners during site investigations, and the convening of quarterly suicide fatality review team meetings to qualitatively discuss circumstances. Ultimately, this process will provide counties with data to inform suicide prevention efforts on the local level.

New York State Suicide Prevention Council

The New York State Suicide Prevention Council was formed in 2016 to assist SPCNY and the New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Office to raise awareness, reduce suicide attempts and deaths, and promote wellness among New Yorkers. Membership includes experts (e.g., researchers, clinicians, and state and community agencies), individuals and family members with lived experience (e.g., attempt and loss survivors), and advocacy groups and organizations. Four workgroups have formed out of the Council including Zero Suicide in health and behavioral health care, communities and coalitions, school and youth initiatives, and data and surveillance.

Crisis Text Line Partnership

New York State partners with Crisis Text Line so that New Yorkers in crisis have 24/7 access to trained counselors at their fingertips. Crisis Text Line is a texting service that allows individuals in crisis to be connected immediately with a trained counselor to text about suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as depression, anxiety, substance use, relationship problems, and domestic violence, among other issues. New Yorkers can text Got5 to 741-741 to access this service. A marketing toolkit is available to promote Crisis Text and Got5. Click here to learn more about the Crisis Text partnership from the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health.