Suicide & Disasters

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on helping emergency planners and disaster behavioral health responders learn about integrating suicide prevention and intervention into disaster behavioral health preparedness and response. Topics covered include but are not limited to the following:

  • Suicide prevention screening and assessment tools and interventions for disaster behavioral health responders, veterans and their families, and school personnel
  • Training, hotlines, and support

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2012 National strategy for suicide prevention: Goals and objectives for action - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
This report outlines a national strategy to guide suicide prevention. It lists goals and objectives to ensure progress in four strategic directions: (1) healthy and empowered individuals, families, and communities; (2) clinical and community prevention services; (3) treatment and support services; and (4) surveillance, research, and evaluation. It may be useful to health promotion organizations; the media; clinical and community-based behavioral health programs, services, and service providers; researchers; and the public.

Addressing suicidal thoughts and behaviors in substance abuse treatment - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
Developed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, this SAMHSA video offers guidance to substance-misuse treatment counselors working with people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It covers risk factors, warning signs, and follow-up care. It includes case scenarios that demonstrate counseling techniques and a four-step process for addressing suicidal ideation.

A Guide for Early Responders Supporting Survivors Bereaved by Suicide - Winnipeg Suicide Prevention Network
This guide provides information for first responders who are working with survivors who have lost a loved one to suicide. The manual includes information on reducing the stigma of suicide, assisting survivors, and supporting first responders.

Air Force suicide prevention program - U.S. Air Force, Air Force Medical Service
The website of the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program features the toll-free phone number of the Military Crisis Line, as well as a link to a website for support by chat. It also includes links to related resources, news stories, and commentary on suicide prevention.

American Association of Suicidology - American Association of Suicidology (AAS)
The American Association of Suicidology promotes suicide prevention and intervention research, public awareness programs, public education, and training for professionals, volunteers, and suicide survivors. This website offers an online directory of suicide survivor support groups.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
This website offers an online directory of suicide survivor support groups. AFSP has partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health to participate in a workshop addressing research on survivors of suicide, including the role of first responders in working with survivors.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) - LivingWorks Education
ASIST is a 2-day training program that teaches participants how to assist those at risk for suicide.

Army Suicide Prevention Program - U.S. Army, Army Public Health Center (USA, APHC)
This webpage provides resources and information for members of the United States Army on the topic of suicide and suicide prevention.

Columbia-suicide severity rating scale (C-SSRS) - Columbia University Medical Center, Center for Suicide Risk Assessment
The C-SSRS is a questionnaire that can be quickly administered in the field by paraprofessionals with no formal mental health training, and is relevant in a wide range of settings and for individuals of all ages. The authors provide links to a webinar and interactive training for more information. [Authors: Posner, K., Brent, D., Lucas, C., Gould, M., Stanley, B., Brown, G., & Mann, J.J.]

Common reactions after trauma - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (VA, PTSD)
Visitors to this web page can learn about common stress reactions that individuals may experience following a disaster or other traumatic event.

Crisis Text Line - Crisis Text Line
The Crisis Text Line serves people across the United States experiencing any type of crisis and provides free, 24/7 emotional support and information through texting with a live, trained specialist. Individuals can access the Crisis Text Line by texting "Start" to 741-741.

Culturally competent approaches - Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
This webpage explains the importance of cultural competence in suicide prevention and lists steps to ensure that suicide prevention programs are appropriate for the cultures in the communities they are serving. The page features links to other resources on suicidality and suicide among people of various cultures, as well as guides and manuals on cultural competence of suicide prevention and other behavioral health programs.

Disaster Distress Helpline wallet card: Having trouble coping after a disaster? Talk with us - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This SAMHSA wallet card highlights warning signs of psychological stress that individuals may experience following a disaster. It also provides contact information to enable individuals to call (1-800-985-5990) or text ("TalkWithUs" to 66746) a behavioral health professional at the Disaster Distress Helpline for support.

Epidemiology of the relationship between traumatic experience and suicidal behaviors - PTSD Research Quarterly
The author provides a summary of studies on the association between trauma and risk of suicidal behaviors, listing disaster survivors as a subgroup of trauma-exposed individuals who may be at a higher risk of suicidal behaviors, although additional information is needed to confirm the few studies on this topic. [Citation: Knox KL. PTSD Research Quarterly. 2008 Fall;19(4):1-8.]

Facts and statistics - American Association of Suicidology (AAS)
On this web page, you will find fact sheets that summarize national suicide statistics based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some fact sheets present general overviews, while others focus on suicide statistics among specific groups and on topics such as risk factors for suicide and traumatic brain injury.

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Last Updated: 12/18/2015