What the Department of Health is Doing About Suicide Prevention
The Washington State Department of Health recognizes suicide as a serious, preventable public health problem. We're taking action to reduce suicide statewide.
The Department of Health has written annual reports on WA's progress on Executive Order 16-02's firearm fatality and suicide prevention initiatives. Each report outlines the actions taken that year and describes the ongoing activities of the Department of Health, other state agencies, and community partners. Here is the WA report on 2018 activities (PDF). Visit the Data and Reports page for more information.
Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (AASP) guides implementation of Governor Jay Inslee's January 2016 Executive Order (EO 16-02)calling for a public health approach to firearm fatality and suicide prevention. AASP members will leverage their expertise and networks to drive suicide prevention policy, financial, legislative and programmatic change, and implement recommendations in the Washington State Suicide Prevention Plan.
Enterprise Suicide Prevention Workgroup
Several Washington State government agencies are collaborating on improving suicide awareness and support for their employees. Visit the Suicide Prevention and Intervention Resources page for state government employees for more information on how we can support each other personally and professionally. The Enterprise Suicide Prevention workgroup's elevator statement is:
“For Washington state government employees
Who need tools and resources to proactively prevent and respond to suicide
Unlike now, where we lack effective and comprehensive help, resources, and support for responding to suicide and supporting employees after they are impacted by suicide
So that employees, supervisors, managers, and HR are supported and equipped to help prevent suicide and respond effectively when state employees are impacted by suicide.”
Find more resources for workplace support.
National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
In September 2014, Washington received Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding to participate in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), locally known as the WA-VDRS. Through working partnerships with local law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners, and state vital records offices, we are gathering a more complete picture of circumstances surrounding each violent death incident that occurs in Washington. This information will be key to developing, guiding and evaluating local, state, and national violence prevention and intervention efforts. For more information about the program, please contact the project manager or call 360-236-2875.
DOH Suicide Prevention listserv
The department sends weekly emails to subscribers of the Suicide Prevention listserv. The purpose of the listserv is to provide the public with the latest news and developments from the field of suicide prevention and local efforts in WA. Topics include announcements from DOH and partners, webinars and trainings, data, suicide prevention in the news, best practices, resources, research, and grant and job opportunities. If you are interested in subscribing to this listserv, click the link above, enter you email address, scroll down to “Prevention and Community Health (PCH)” and select “Suicide Prevention”. You can also contact the program manager.
Agricultural industry and rural communities
On March 15, 2018, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2671 into law. It called for DOH to create a task force and set up a pilot program to improve behavioral health and prevent suicide in agricultural communities. The task force identified Skagit County for a pilot program to be established by March 1, 2019. A preliminary report on the task forces' work (PDF) and a preliminary report of the pilot program (PDF) were submitted to the governor and the health care committees of the legislature. For more information about the pilot, please contact the project manager.
Training for health professionals
Certain health professions in Washington have training requirements for suicide prevention. The department has information available about training requirements and programs.
Youth Suicide Prevention
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Washington State youth between the ages of 10 and 24. In an effort to reduce youth suicide, the Department of Health partners with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery to offer youth suicide prevention grants to communities in Washington. For information about the Department of Health's work toward preventing youth suicide, please contact the program manager at 360-236-2859.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), a project funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a network of crisis centers committed to suicide prevention that are located in communities across the country. After learning that many Washington callers were being transferred out of state, the WA State Legislature approved state funding to create new crisis centers partnerships with the Lifeline and increase staff capacity at local crisis centers who take Lifeline calls. See p. 24 of the 2019 annual report for call data. For more information about the program, contact the project manager or call 360-236-2836.
House Bill 1477 and the Creation of 988
In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. The act made 988 the new, nationwide, easy-to-remember 3-digit dialing, texting, and chat number for anyone experiencing a suicidal or mental health related crisis.
In Washington, the Legislature passed House Bill 1477 (E2SHB 1477) to support 988. It enhanced and expanded behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for everyone in Washington State. E2SHB 1477 was signed into law on May 13, 2021. E2SHB 1477 is also known as the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act.
E2SHB 1477 also established the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee and Steering Committee. These committees are developing recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to help implement the national 988 number and parts of E2SHB 1477. If you would like to participate as a member of the public, you can register to attend a meeting and submit public comments.
For full details, please see the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committees webpage.
Rule making for Crisis Call Center Hubs
ES2HB 1477 also requires the Department of Health to adopt rules to establish standards for designation of crisis call centers and crisis call center hubs.
The Department shall use these rules to designate crisis call center hubs. These hubs will offer crisis counseling and intervention services, triage, care coordination, referrals, and connections to people contacting the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
To stay informed about this rulemaking, please email 988ProgramInfo@doh.wa.gov.