Zero Suicide Institute Unveils Toolkit for Pediatric Health Systems to Prevent Suicide

The escalating concern of pediatric suicide has become a pressing issue, with more than 25% of youth deaths in the U.S. attributed to suicide, as noted by the American Academy of Pediatricians. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 10 to 24.

Pediatric suicide presents distinct challenges due to developmental nuances, communication barriers, limited access to mental health resources, and other factors. Children’s hospitals play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges by offering specialized care tailored to young patients and their families. However, effectively integrating suicide prevention efforts into pediatric healthcare necessitates a tailored approach that acknowledges the unique needs of these systems.

Responding to the specific needs of at-risk pediatric populations, the Zero Suicide Institute at EDC, in collaboration with the Cardinal Health Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), has developed a groundbreaking adaptation of the Zero Suicide Toolkit expressly for implementing the Zero Suicide framework in children’s hospitals. Today, the organizations have unveiled the release of the Zero Suicide Toolkit for Children’s Hospitals, commemorating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

The Zero Suicide framework represents a holistic approach to suicide prevention premised on the belief that every suicide death is preventable. Initially designed for adult populations, the framework has been tailored to address the distinctive challenges confronted by systems serving children and adolescents, with the backing of the Cardinal Health Foundation and the CHA. At its core, Zero Suicide advocates for a systematic, data-driven approach to identifying and supporting individuals at risk of suicide, integrating suicide prevention practices into routine healthcare settings.

To date, the Cardinal Health Foundation has allocated nearly $6 million to support hospitals and health systems nationwide in suicide prevention efforts. Beginning in 2020, the Foundation collaborated with the Zero Suicide Institute to fund a cohort of health systems, including nine children’s hospitals and eight adult hospitals. Subsequently, in 2022, the Foundation partnered with both Zero Suicide Institute and Children’s Hospital Association, focusing exclusively on children’s hospitals. Since then, the Foundation has funded two cohorts of grantees, bringing the total number of pediatric health systems trained and adopting the Zero Suicide framework to 39.

The adaptation of the Zero Suicide Institute’s toolkit represents a significant advancement in pediatric suicide prevention, stemming from the collaborative efforts funded by the Cardinal Health Foundation. By furnishing children’s hospitals with the requisite resources and support to effectively implement the Zero Suicide framework, this initiative holds the potential to save numerous young lives and revolutionize the landscape of pediatric mental health care.

Jessie Cannon, Vice President of Community Relations at Cardinal Health, affirmed the organization’s commitment to investing in community and employee mental wellbeing, expressing pride in supporting the work of the Zero Suicide Institute, the CHA, and children’s hospitals to mitigate pediatric suicide. Amy Wimpey Knight, President of CHA, underscored the crucial role of children’s hospitals in enhancing the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth.

The release of the Zero Suicide Toolkit for Children’s Hospitals adaptation signifies a significant milestone in pediatric suicide prevention. This comprehensive resource furnishes child and youth-serving systems with practical guidance, tools, and strategies for effectively implementing the Zero Suicide framework.

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