Suicide Prevention: A Healer Education and Referral Program for Nurses

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to describe the pilot expansion of a proactive suicide risk–screening program, initially designed for physicians, to nurses.

BACKGROUND

The Healer Education, Assessment and Referral (HEAR) program detects at-risk physicians and facilitates referral to mental healthcare. Nothing similar has been available for at-risk nurses. Local nurse suicides served as the catalyst to extend the HEAR program to nurses.

METHODS

Education, outreach, and an encrypted, online, anonymous, proactive risk screening were conducted to identify and refer nurses with depression and suicide risk.

RESULTS

During the 1st 6 months of the program, 172 of 2475 (7%) nurses completed questionnaires; 74 (43%) were rated as high risk, and another 98 (55%) as moderate risk; 12 (7%) reported current active thoughts or actions of self-harm, and 19 (11%) reported previous suicide attempts. Forty-four (26%) received in-person or verbal counseling, and 17 accepted referral for continued treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

An encrypted, anonymous, proactive risk screening is effective at identifying nurses at risk and referring them to mental healthcare.

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