Behavioral Health Care

Because suicide is closely linked to mental health and substance use disorders, behavioral health care providers play a key role in treating suicide risk and related behavioral health problems. Providers who work in health care settings like primary care practices and emergency departments are also essential to treating patients at risk for suicide. By offering patients high-quality suicide care, they can reduce suicide risk among some of the most vulnerable individuals.

Providers in other health care settings are also essential to treating patients at risk for suicide.

 Why Address Suicide Prevention

  • Treating suicide risk directly, not just as a symptom of an underlying condition, is considered safe suicide care.
  • Inpatient hospitalization—often considered the first resort for patients at risk for suicide—is the most costly and restrictive option.

How Behavioral Health Care Providers Can Take Action

The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components: 

  • Train all staff in effective suicide care, the specific protocols to follow, and the delivery of collaborative suicide care
  • Create agreements to accept referrals from other health care providers (primary care, hospitals) 
  • Ensure safe transitions of care  

Learn More

  • To learn more about safe and effective care for suicide risk, visit the Zero Suicide website.
  • See the Recommended Resources below selected by SPRC personnel.
  • See All Resources Related to Behavioral Health Care for a full list of materials, programs, trainings, and other information available from SPRC. Use the filters on the left to narrow your results.
  • For more on other settings and groups, see our Settings and Populations pages.
Recommended Resources
This website provides information, resources, and tools for implementing safe suicide care.
This section of the toolkit provides information and resources on screening and risk formulation.
This SPRC resource presents two approaches to evaluating suicide risk and links to resources.
This article presents a model for conducting context-based rather than categorical (high-medium-low) suicide risk assessments.
This guide shows how to develop a safety plan for patients at high risk for suicide.
This practice guideline was developed under the auspices of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).