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Adult Ambulatory Areas Policy Awareness

Suicide Ideation Response

83% of suicide victims are seen by their healthcare provider the year prior to death. (Raue, et al, 2014)
In 2021: 48,183 people died by suicide in the United States. That is 1 death every 11 minutes. (CDC, 2023)
Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the US. (CDC, 2023).
VUMC Policy link: Suicide Ideation Response Plan in Adult Non-Psychiatric Ambulatory Clinics
  • VMG has developed a policy to help staff when caring for patients who express suicidal thoughts.
  • The policy was created, "To establish a standard response for screening, intervention, and appropriate care in ambulatory patients aged 18 years and older in non-psychiatric settings, who express suicidal ideation (SI) in an outpatient encounter, over the phone, via virtual message, or telehealth."
Policy: VMG Suicidal Ideation Response
  • Stay with the patient and call for help from RN/LPN or MA
  • Do not leave the patient. Wait until a team member arrives
  • Use Therapeutic Communication:
      • Remain Calm and Focus on the patient
      • Hear them and try to connect with them
      • Avoid Asking "Why" or any probing questions
      • Avoid belittling their feelings or giving advice
      • Most importantly, provide a safe space for the patient,
free of judgement. This is likely the most difficult time of their life.

What to do if someone tells you they are thinking of suicide ...

  • Offer Support to the RN, LPN, or MA
    • They may ask you to make phone calls for them.
    • They may ask you to help find the clinician
    • They may ask for help printing documents
    • Finally, assist with other patients or workloads

How to assist in care of suicidal patient ...

Suicide is a complex topic to talk about or think about. We are bringing this issue into training because suicide has become such a national concern, and many of us have come across it in our work and personal lives.If you are ever in distress, please reach out to any of the resources on the next slide of this presentation.

(Please click on the below icons to access the links)

Debriefing The Frontlines - Provide psychological first aid, sustained emotional wellness programs and continuing education to nurses.

Therapy Aid Coalition - Free & low-cost therapy for health care workers.

Don't Clock Out - Free online peer support groups for nurses and health care professionals.
Vanderbilt Employee Assistance Program (EAP) –Free counseling for all staff

Links for Resources for Staff in Distress

Thank you!