Suicide Prevention in Nursing; Breaking the Silence is the first program of its kind.
The Suicide Prevention in Nursing: Breaking the Silence model, inspired by the first national longitudinal study of U.S nurse suicide, has been recognized as an Academy Edge Runner by the American Academy of Nursing.
Edge Runners are nurse-designed, innovative models of care or interventions with significant, demonstrated outcomes to improve health, impact cost, and influence policy.
The Suicide Prevention in Nursing model was developed by an interprofessional team in the wake of the national study of U.S. nurse suicide led by Judy E. Davidson, DNP, RN, MCCM, FAAN, nurse scientist at the University of California, San Diego Health Sciences (UC San Diego Health).
Nurses continue to struggle with psychological stress and trauma from the harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conditions it has caused, so the aim of preventing nurse suicide is vital to the health and future of the profession.
The Suicide Prevention in Nursing model is an evidence-based suicide prevention program for nurses, backed upon investigator-initiated research to quantify incidence and characteristics of nurse suicide in the United States.
The new model aims to increase education and outreach to dispel the stigma around mental health, thereby advocating for better resources to support the mental health of nurses and ultimately save lives.
This is the first program of its kind, according to the academy. Prior to this model, the profession did not have proactive screening.
The team that developed the model was aware that a suicide prevention program, the Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR), was launched at UC San Diego School of Medicine in 2009 for physicians and medical students, but no program existed specifically for nurses.
In addition to filling this interprofessional gap, the Suicide Prevention in Nursing model utilizes an Interactive Screening Program (ISP), which offers nurses a safe and confidential way to conduct a brief screening and connect with mental health services to receive support and access to treatment options.
The ISP is a licensed program of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"Proactive and personalized support for nurses protects our colleagues and gives them the tools to continue providing excellent care to others," Davidson said.
"Our interprofessional model of care provides support to nurses while protecting their identity through the option of anonymous screening, treatment, and referral. One-on-one therapy, often through encryption, is coupled with group emotional process debriefings after crisis incidents to further encourage healing, self-care, and eliminating stigma surrounding mental health."
In 2016, during the first year of the program’s launch, 40 nurses received counseling and 17 were successfully referred for continued treatment. Over a five-year period, between 2016 and 2020, the Suicide Prevention in Nursing program has identified and transferred nearly 300 nurses into treatment, according to a press release from the academy.
Additionally, more than 1,000 nurses have benefited from group emotional process debriefings after critical events—support that is integral to a team-based approach to healing and strengthens the caring community.
"The Suicide Prevention in Nursing program is paramount to fortify the mental health of the nursing profession, at any stage in their career, without stigma given the emotional and moral distress nurses experience in their efforts to provide care—particularly during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic," said academy president Kenneth R. White, PhD, AGACNP, ACHPN, FACHE, FAAN.
As the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, nurses must focus some of their attention on their own well-being, Davidson said.
"Through educational outreach, we have the potential to shift the culture to caring for ourselves, in addition to our patients, and decrease stigma around seeking treatment for mental health disorders," Davidson said. "We can make an incredible impact on the mental health of our colleagues."
“Proactive and personalized support for nurses protects our colleagues and gives them the tools to continue providing excellent care to others.”
Judy E. Davidson, DNP, RN, MCCM, FAAN, nurse scientist
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
The American Academy of Nursing has recognized a nurse suicide prevention model as an Academy Edge Runner.
The Suicide Prevention in Nursing model offers a safe and confidential way to conduct a brief screening and connect with mental health services.
The Suicide Prevention in Nursing program has identified and transferred nearly 300 nurses into treatment.