Ensure Access to Effective Care and Treatment

Ensuring that effective care for suicide risk is available to individuals at risk for suicide is a key component of suicide prevention.

What Works

Elements of effective care and treatment for suicide risk include these:

  • Treatment for suicide risk should be evidence-based and focus directly on suicidal thoughts and behaviors along with treatment for mental and/or substance use disorders.
  • Every community should offer multiple levels of care so that people at risk for suicide have ready access to the best available care in the least restrictive setting.
  • Health and behavioral health care organizations should establish care pathways for patients with suicide risk to ensure they receive follow-up and referral services in a timely manner—particularly during high-risk periods.    

Treatment should focus on suicide risk and underlying mental and/or substance use disorders.

Strategies to Consider

  • Use telepsychiatry to facilitate access to mental health evaluations in settings or locations where they may not be readily available. 
  • Promote the integration of primary care and behavioral health care to increase access to behavioral health services in primary care settings.
  • Train primary care providers to provide brief suicide prevention interventions, such as counseling on reducing access to lethal means and Safety Planning.
  • Establish referral agreements between providers to ensure that patients have timely access to follow-up care.
  • Improve discharge planning procedures to identify and address patient barriers to accessing needed follow-up care.
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders to expand community-level behavioral health and crisis services capacity to meet the demand for these services and promote care in the least restrictive setting. 

Take Action

  • Visit the Zero Suicide website to learn about effective care for suicide risk.
  • Integrate the elements of effective suicide care into your current work.
  • Go to the primary care, behavioral health, and emergency department sections of this website to learn more about suicide prevention in these settings.
  • Help reduce financial, cultural, and logistical barriers to effective suicide care.