HHS launches suicide prevention, training tool app for providers

By Aditi Pai
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Suicide Safe SAMHSAThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has launched a new training tool, an app called Suicide Safe, for behavioral health and primary care providers.

Suicide Safe is based on the suicide assessment five-step evaluation and triage (SAFE-T) practice guidelines. Providers can use the app to learn the five steps in the SAFE-T practice guidelines, download the guidelines to work in offline mode, learn how other providers have used the SAFE-T approach through case studies, and access conversation starters as well as other tips for speaking with patients about suicide. The app also lists crisis line phone numbers and offers a location finder feature so physicians can refer patients to the appropriate behavioral treatment center.

“Suicide devastates lives throughout all parts of our nation, but it is a public health issue that is preventable and SAMHSA working to provide people on the front lines with resources they need to save lives,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “Suicide Safe is a major step forward in suicide prevention. The app gives behavioral and primary care providers an essential and modern prevention tool at their fingertips to help address suicide risk with their patients.”

Organizations in the private sector are also working on mobile tools for suicide prevention. 

In February, Facebook partnered with several mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org to offer its users more tools to help those who may be considering committing suicide. Facebook already offered users a way to report a friend’s post if a user thinks their friend has posted suicidal content. In the newest update, Facebook rolled out additional resources for the person who posted the suicidal content, including giving them the option to reach out to a friend, and provide tips and advice on how they can work through their feelings.

And in June 2013, Apple improved Siri’s suicide prevention safeguard. On the iOS 6 and iOS 7 versions of Siri, the digital assistant software was updated so that it would offer to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, instead of simply showing the nearest locations of suicide prevention centers like older versions of Siri did. If the user chose “no,” Siri listed options of the closest suicide prevention centers.