Resources for Emergency Departments

tdmhsas 2015

tdmhsas 2015

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the hospitals of this state see more than 38,000 individuals each year for injuries related to suicide attempts or for suicidal thoughts. Since these patients typically enter the hospital system via the emergency department (ED), personnel within this department need to know how to respond to actively suicidal patients, attending to the psychological and emotional concerns of the patient with the same care as the patient’s physical injuries.

A sensitive and knowledgeable response to these people will advance the patient’s recovery, as well as prevention of further disruption of the family unit. Preventing these patients from harming themselves or others while in the hospital setting–a Sentinel Event as defined by the Joint Commission–is also a priority.

Hence, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has joined forces with Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee (MHAMT) and TSPN to produce “Suicide Prevention in the Emergency Department”, an interactive online curriculum available through the MHAMT website (

The course reviews the prevalence of suicide on the national level and within the state of Tennessee. It discusses suicide risk factors and warning signs, gives examples of several evidence-based suicide risk assessment tools (included in the appendix), and provides recommendations on what can be done to prevent suicide attempts within the ED, such as suicide-proofing hospital rooms and simple intervention techniques. Included with the curriculum are an assortment of suicide risk assessment tools and a comprehensive list of local and national mental health and crisis intervention resources.

Completion of the course provides the participant with one hour of continuing education towards certification by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Tennessee Licensed Professional Counselors Association (TLPCA), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), or for Nursing Competence certification.

This course can be used alongside the Emergency Department Resource Toolkits our volunteers and staff are distributing to across the state. These free kits include the “After an Attempt” brochure series, originally developed by the National Alliance on Mental Health and endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians. These brochures are available for preview below.

You can request an Emergency Department Resource Toolkit for your hospital by contacting