National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

For immediate release: April 17, 2018

New Recommended Standard Care for People with Suicide Risk Aims to Fundamentally Improve Suicide Care Delivered Nationwide

Action Alliance releases evidence-based guidance aimed at making health care safe for people with suicide risk.

WASHINGTON, DC—First-ever recommendations to improve standard health care for people with suicide risk was released today by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), the nation’s public-private partnership for suicide prevention. While health care organizations nationwide already follow guidelines or standards to address other urgent medical conditions – such as heart attack, stroke, and serious injury from an accident – up until now, guidance on standard suicide care did not exist.

Since the majority (64 percent) of people who attempt suicide visit a doctor in the month before their attempt, it is essential that people who are at risk for suicide receive timely access to treatments and other fundamental health care services that are known to be effective in reducing suicide risk.

“Health care organizations deliver health care services to reduce risk of other urgent medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, however, they are not treating suicide with the same sense of responsibility or urgency” said Dr. Michael Hogan, former New York state commissioner for mental health and principal, Hogan Health Solutions. “We have a moral imperative to use what we know works in health care to prevent suicide,” added Dr. Hogan. “Just as statins are used in the prevention of heart disease, we have access to an array of feasible, evidence-based practices that should be part of standard care that is provided to those with suicide risk. Doing anything less is unacceptable.”

The new recommendations present feasible, practical, evidence-based actions for primary care, behavioral health, and emergency department settings that health care organizations can adopt immediately. These include:

  • Screening patients to identify who is at risk;

  • Assessing patients’ level of suicide risk;

  • Working with patients to create safety plans that include how they will reduce their access to lethal means, such as firearms or poisons; and

  • Completing caring contacts – following up with patients by phone, email, or text within 48 hours of their health care

These recommendations are for health care organizations and providers looking to ensure the services they deliver to patients at risk for suicide are informed by the most relevant and robust suicide prevention research available. Transforming health systems to significantly reduce suicide in the U.S. is a key priority of the Action Alliance. The report is just one Action Alliance- developed tool aimed at better equipping health systems in the U.S. and further advance the goals and objectives outlined in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) – a joint effort by the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the Action Alliance.

“The Action Alliance is committed to ‘promoting suicide prevention as a core component of health care services’ a goal of the NSSP,” said Mr. Robert Turner, Private Sector Chair of the Action Alliance and former Senior Vice President at Union Pacific Corporation. “To advance this goal, we need to work with public and private partners, especially health systems, whom I hope will adopt these recommendations, to reach those who are at risk and reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.”


Research shows that the media may influence suicide rates by the way they report on suicide. Evidence suggests that when the media tell stories of people positively coping in suicidal moments, more suicides can be prevented. We urge all members of the media working on these stories to refer to the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide for best practices for safely and accurately reporting on suicide. For stories of persons with lived experience of suicidality and finding hope, refer to


The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is the public-private partnership working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and make suicide prevention a national priority. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides funding to EDC to operate and manage the Secretariat for the Action Alliance, which was launched in 2010. Learn more at and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following the Action Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

For help in Australia

CAPS – Talk Suicide Support Service – Free telephone and face to face support      1800 008 255

Salvation Army Care Line     1300 36 36 22

Reach Out

Headspace     Register and chat now at eheadspace, or call 1800 650 890  Headspace

Lifeline    13 11 14

Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 (24 hour phone counselling and referral)

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Mates in Construction: 1300 642 111

QLife        1800 184 527    Phone & Chat  3.00 – 12.00 pm everyday

SANE Australia help

SANE Australia Helpline  –  Talk to a mental health professional (weekdays, 10am-10pm AEST) 1800 18 72 63

Helpline chat – Chat online with a mental health professional (weekdays 10am-10pm AEST)

Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 (24 hour phone counselling)

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Professional call back service referral line operates seven days a week)

Veterans Line 1800 011 046 (after hours professional telephone crisis counselling for veterans and their families

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