A while back, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began an effort to achieve measurable impact in targeted areas, coined as “winnable battles”. CDC’s Winnable Battles are public health priorities with large-scale impact on health and with known, effective strategies to address them. ADHS has followed suit and has prioritized suicide as one of these winnable battles here in Arizona. It is identified in both the overall department strategic plan and within the Division’s System of Care strategic plans.
But as you can imagine, preventing suicide is complex. As many media outlets have reported, Arizona, like the nation, continues to see an increase in the number of suicides. We believe that one suicide is one too many. While the causes of suicide are intricate and determined by a variety of factors, the goal of suicide prevention is straightforward: reduce or remove factors that increase risk while increasing factors that promote resilience. ADHS and its partners strive to implement effective prevention approaches that address multiple levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and to change the way we think about suicide prevention.
None of these prevention efforts are done alone. We partner with Indian Health Services, the Veterans Administration and the Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition to name a few. One of the main strategies we’ve identified as a need is addressing intentional, self-inflicted poisoning that present in emergency departments (ED). Hospital EDs in Arizona regularly see these patients and the ED visit can be a powerful teaching moment to motivate patients to seek treatment and reduce readmissions.
That’s why the ADHS offers At-Risk for Emergency Department Staff, an online training simulation designed to prepare medical staff to screen patients at risk for alcohol abuse, drug use and suicide.
At-Risk for Emergency Department Staff training uses the same gaming technology as many video games, including emotionally responsive avatars. The players can engage in conversations with other avatars, simulating real-life situations. For example, ED staff will interact with avatars that exhibit symptoms associated with psychiatric illnesses and substance abuse.
The training program is free to Arizona hospitals. To learn more about how At-Risk for Emergency Department Staff improves patient safety by helping reduce poisoning deaths and injuries, please visit https://az-ared.kognito.com. For information on how to implement this training in your ED, contact ADHS at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-867-5808 and ask for “At-Risk Training,” or “Office of Prevention.”
And if you or someone you know is in psychological distress or having a suicidal crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also visit them online: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.