Would you recognize suicide risk if you saw it?

Zero Suicide Initiative

Safe Communities is coordinating a Zero Suicide partnership that includes all area health care systems as well as community organizations with a role to play in suicide prevention.  The initiative is modeled after Henry Ford Health Care System’s program, which demonstrated an 80% reduction in suicide among health care plan members.   National Zero Suicide leaders – including Edward Coffey, MD and Brian Ahmedani, PhD, who implemented the Henry Ford project, and Becky Stoll of Centerstone Behavioral Health in Tennessee – are advising us.  Zero Suicide is a key concept of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a priority of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), a project of Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), and supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Coordinate Community-wide Zero Suicide Team:  Behavioral health leaders from UW Health, SSM Health, UnityPoint Health, Journey Mental Health, Group Health Cooperative, Stoughton Hospital and the William S. Middleton VA Hospital meet every 6 weeks – 2 months to collaborate on implementation of Zero Suicide.  In addition, each system launched an internal work team to advance Zero Suicide within their organizations.

Exploring Overlap between Suicide and the Drug Overdose Epidemic: September 14, 2017 Safe Communities hosted a Zero Suicide Conference featuring a panel discussion to explore the overlap between addiction and suicide. Recent data suggests that people with substance use disorders are about six times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. One panel member shared her experience with childhood trauma, heroin addiction, suicide attempts and how she came to find recovery.

What are the Core Concepts of the ZSI approach?

  • Suicide deaths for people under care are preventable.
  • Treatment of depression alone will not effectively prevent suicidality.
  • The bold goal of zero suicides among persons receiving care is one that health systems should embrace.
  • The goal requires a system-wide approach involving the broader community.
  • The approach is based on the realization that suicidal individuals often fall through multiple cracks in fragmented healthcare systems.
  • Key areas of focus are means reduction, including eliminating suicide locations within communities.

What is different about the ZSI approach?

  • A Collaborative Safety Plan (formulated by the patient and provider) is completed with every patient experiencing suicidality.
  • This Safety Plan discussion must include “means reduction” (how to eliminate access to guns and other methods of suicide).
  • A “warm hand-off” is conducted, which means a follow-up appointment with an outpatient provider is made while the patient is still in the hospital or clinic.
  • A follow-up phone call is made within 72 hours to patients discharged from the Emergency Room, an inpatient unit or a clinic visit with a Collaborative Safety Plan.

Check Out What Participants had to say about Zero Suicide Initiative

High level, then dug into the “how”. This made it very valuable, doesn’t  often happen at conferences.

Excited to implement changes in my private practice.

I feel energized and am looking forward to sharing this information with my agency – and with my family and friends as well. Thank you.

Our Conference Speakers Enjoyed the Experience too

Congratulations again on an OUTSTANDING ZS Conference – I was thrilled and honored to be a part of it.

Ed Coffey

Thank you so much for the chance to spend some time with you all this week working on suicide prevention. You all are truly ahead of the game and leaders in this space.

Becky Stoll

As you move this project forward in Dane County … I look forward to our continued collaboration!

Brian Ahmedani


Dane County Suicide Crisis Line: (608) 280-2600

National Suicide Prevention Line:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
For Veterans Press 1, En Español Oprima El 2

Safe Communities is not a counseling or crisis center and does not provide direct services. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

our programs

We are currently focusing on three major program initiatives: 


Safe Communities is coordinating a Zero Suicide partnership that includes all area health care systems, as well as community organizations with a role to play in suicide prevention. The initiative is modeled after Henry Ford Health Care System’s program, which demonstrated an 80% reduction in suicide among health care plan members.


Safe Communities offers a free QPR (Question Persuade Refer) training where participants learn the warning signs for suicide, how to offer hope, and how to seek help to save a life.

QPR is CPR for Suicide Prevention.


Safe Communities launched a replication of New Hampshire’s Project Connect Guns Shop Project in 2016. The program is promoted on Harvard University’s Means Matters website as a means reduction strategy.





UnityPoint Health-Meriter Foundation

Journey Mental Health Center

The Medical Staff of UnityPoint Health-Meriter

UW Health

Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin

Community Outreach Partners