University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)

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Outline of Pennsylvania with Pittsburgh highlighted
Website:

The Resilient Veteran

Funding Amount:
  • FY20: $598,861
  • FY21: $700,000
  • FY22: $833,000
Focus Populations:

Veterans in Northwest Pennsylvania (15 counties)

University of Pittsburgh’s Suicide Prevention Strategies and Approaches

Environments icon

Create protective environments

Reduce access to lethal means among persons at risk for suicide

Delivery suicide care icon

Improve access and delivery of suicide care

Coverage of mental health conditions in health insurance policies

Safer suicide care through system change

Connectedness icon

Promote healthy connections

Community engagement activities

Support people icon

Identify and support people at risk

Gatekeeper training

Treatment to prevent re-attempts

Examples of University of Pittsburgh’s CSP-funded suicide prevention activities:
  • Developing firearm suicide prevention tools, campaigns, and trainings for firearm retailers and owners to identify individuals at risk for suicide and reduce access to lethal means among people at risk
  • Planning gatekeeper trainings, such as Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), for healthcare providers, law enforcement, and community members to increase knowledge and awareness of suicide first aid
  • Collaborating with a local nonprofit, Hold My Guns, to encourage local firearm retailers to provide offsite safe storage options
  • Collaborating with community partners to distribute safe storage items including gun locks and prescription lock boxes
  • Promoting and hosting community greening initiatives and local engagement activities to reduce social isolation and promote connectedness
  • Partnering with primary care and emergency department settings to implement Zero Suicide (a framework for system-wide transformation of healthcare settings toward safer suicide care) by screening, treating, and referring patients to treatment and providing sustained follow-up care
    • Training and educating healthcare providers on using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), an evidence-based fast and effective suicide screening tool
    • Training healthcare providers in primary care and emergency department settings on brief interventions, referral to treatment using warm handoffs, and active follow-up contacts
  • Raising awareness and providing education on Pennsylvania’s mental health parity laws and regulations to healthcare providers and community members

Prevention in Action

Map of Pennsylvania with Pittsburgh highlighted

“The program aims to reduce veteran suicide attempts, injuries, and deaths by 10% over five years. Primary goals are improving access to treatment and support services, increasing awareness of suicide risk, and targeted suicide prevention activities and training opportunities.”
The Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program Implements Gatekeeper Training to Help Prevent Suicide Among Veterans

The Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program, housed in the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), is a collaborative effort between healthcare partners, community organizations, and veteran groups to create significant and lasting change and help prevent veteran suicide in the 15-county northwest Pennsylvania region. The program aims to reduce veteran suicide attempts, injuries, and deaths by 10% over five years. Primary goals are improving access to treatment and support services, increasing awareness of suicide risk, and targeted suicide prevention activities and training opportunities.

Funded by CDC’s Comprehensive Suicide Prevention program, the Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program provides the Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) gatekeeper training to healthcare and community organizations throughout the 15-county region. QPR is an evidence-based training that can reduce suicide morbidity and mortality. Such training teaches individuals to recognize a crisis and the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide. Anyone can become a gatekeeper: parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, athletic coaches, ministers, doctors, nurses, office supervisors, squad leaders, police officers, advisors, caseworkers, firefighters, and others. In its inaugural year, the program had overwhelming success in conducting gatekeeper training sessions. The program team planned 12 two-hour virtual QPR trainings scheduled to occur from March to August 2022.

The QPR trainings were promoted widely, including among professional networks, on social media, and on the program website, The Resilient Veteran. As a result of these efforts, all 12 QPR sessions were filled within five days of opening registration. Between March and June 2022, 381 individuals were trained in QPR. Because of this outpouring of support and interest, eight additional QPR sessions were scheduled through December 2022 to accommodate wait-listed individuals. Through these training sessions, the Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program is providing essential skills to help reduce veteran suicide.