Suicide is a major public health concern in California that can have both immediate and long-term impacts on individuals, families, and entire communities. Suicide is a leading cause of death and is a major contributor of years of life lost due to its significant impact on young people. There were 4,490 completed suicides in California in 2018, more than any other state. In 2018, there were over 31,700 emergency department visits related to self-harm and over 14,000 hospitalizations. The highest suicide rates occur predominantly in rural counties in Northern California. These communities frequently tend to be those with fewer resources and more barriers to accessing services.
The purpose of this application is to implement and evaluate a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in California counties identified using the following criteria: higher suicide rates and higher rates of emergency department visits for self-harm than the overall California rate, and well established data sharing with the California Violent Death Reporting System (CalVDRS).
CDPH will establish a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention through implementation of a strategic action plan. This plan includes the following five components: a multi-sectoral partnership plan, identification of the vulnerable population(s), inventory of suicide prevention programs, selection of evidence-based strategies/approaches, and a communication and dissemination plan. By leveraging existing internal and external partnerships, aligning strategies with the new public health-focused state suicide prevention plan, and building a program team around existing injury and violence prevention staff, CDPH will have a strong foundation to quickly begin implementation.
In alignment with the goals of California’s new Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention Striving for Zero, CDPH’s Comprehensive Suicide Prevention (CSP) Program will create protective environments, identify and support people at-risk, and teach coping and problem solving skills. Specific approaches will include reducing access to lethal means among people at risk via safe storage practices for both firearms and medications, treatment to prevent reattempts via emergency department brief interventions and active follow-up contact approaches, and providing parenting skills and family relationship programs and social-emotional learning programs.
Through implementation of this comprehensive approach, CDPH will build the capacity of the state and local health departments to collaboratively address suicide prevention. By the end of the project period (Year 5), the CDPH CSP Program will improve the ability to sustain comprehensive suicide prevention activities and decrease risk and increase protective factors for suicide in the identified and funded counties. Additionally, the CSP program expects to see a ten percent decrease in number and rate of self-harm emergency department visits, as well as a ten percent decrease in number and rate of suicide deaths within the identified counties.