The foundation has received a five-year grant aimed at developing and comprehensively implementing the Zero Suicide framework within our health system. The grant, awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Office of Suicide Prevention, helps build upon the Zero Suicide framework, whose premise is that suicide deaths for individuals under the care of health and behavioral health systems are preventable.

For the past year, UCHealth in northern Colorado has been working to implement Zero Suicide, starting with gatekeeper training, which was funded by a grant the foundation received in 2017 from the Colorado Health Foundation. QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention is evidence-based and peer reviewed. Just like CPR, the training—referred to as QPR for “Question, Persuade, Refer”—is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives.

The education is targeted to health care professionals who have the first encounter with a patient and who thus control the patient’s entry into the health care system. Thanks to the QPR grant, 798 UCHealth staff members in northern Colorado were trained in this suicide-intervention method in 2018.

The next step is to continue to build upon the framework, and the new grant, which provides funding from 2019 to 2023, will help our hospitals and health facilities in Larimer County do that. Specifically, the grant will provide funding to:

  • Support the implementation of Zero Suicide protocols and procedures within the health system to address screening, assessment, care management and coordination for patients.
  • Develop cross-system communication to improve care coordination.
  • Evaluate the implementation and reach of the programming within the health system.
  • Continuously train clinical and nonclinical staff to recognize and respond to suicide risk.
  • Identify enhancements that can be made to the electronic-health-record system to support implementation of the framework.

Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Addressing the epidemic will require sustained, years-long effort. The Zero Suicide grant and program provide practical means to continuously improve health care processes and work toward a goal of no suicide. According to Zero Suicide, health systems in other states have seen substantial reductions in suicide deaths after three years of implementing the Zero Suicide model.