A Stepped Care Approach to Clinical Suicide Prevention

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Abstract

Despite the enormous humanitarian and economic toll of suicide, mental health systems of care are largely underprepared to work effectively with suicidal individuals and suicide is a leading “Sentinel Event” in U.S. health care settings (The Joint Commission, 2016). In response to these concerns, a recent policy initiative called “Zero Suicide” has advocated a systems-level response to the suicidal risk within health care and this policy initiative is yielding positive results (Hogan & Goldstein Grumet, 2016). Along these lines, a “stepped care” approach developed by Jobes (2016) has been adapted and used within the Zero Suicide curriculum as a model for systems-level care that is suicide-specific, evidence-based, least-restrictive, and cost-effective. The Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) is an example of one suicide-specific evidence-based clinical intervention that can be adapted and used across the full range of stepped care service settings (Jobes, 2016). This article describes various applications and uses of CAMS at all service levels and highlights CAMS-related innovations. It is argued that psychological services are uniquely poised to make a major difference in clinical suicide prevention through a systems-level approach using evidence-based care such as CAMS.

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