Critical Incident Review Team

The national movement of suicide prevention and suicide postvention has made significant gains in the last decade. Federal legislation has paved the way for states to offer a variety of services and educational opportunities for the public. Despite these efforts, Oregon continues to have higher rates of youth suicide than the national average. The Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Program, began exploring this issue in 2017 and concluded that many of the children dying by suicide have had some contact with child welfare systems. In response, several efforts have begun to train DHS staff on suicide prevention.

Education and Training

To date, the Child Safety Program has identified two CPS program coordinators to implement a plan to offer suicide prevention services for Child Welfare. Additional efforts to provide suicide prevention training for any Department of Human Services employee is also being spearheaded by the Chief Administrative Officer of DHS Shared Services. Currently, three evidence-based suicide prevention trainings are being offered: Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR); Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST); and safeTALK.

Child Welfare identified QPR as an appropriate suicide prevention training for Child Welfare and over 100 individuals have been certified as QPR trainers to carry out the effort to train all staff. This includes Portland State University Child Welfare Trainers, Child Welfare Consultants across programs, and staff working in the role of MAPS – Mentoring, Assisting and Promoting Success.

Awareness Champions

In addition to training, each Child Welfare district has been asked to identify individuals to serve as Suicide Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) champions. SAFE champions will be offered more comprehensive training through ASIST or other suicide prevention programs and serve their local office in the following ways:

  • Develop and maintain a list of community-based suicide intervention services
  • Become certified to provide QPR training to DHS staff as well as community partners
  • Offer case consultation for families dealing with the issue of suicide
  • Organize trauma response efforts related to suicide

Intervention Partners

Child Welfare's efforts around youth suicide prevention have also included collaboration with external partners, in particular the Oregon Health Authority's Zero Suicide Coordinator, for continued improvements in suicide intervention statewide. This collaboration also includes the creation of a suicide intervention protocol specific to local Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT). This protocol will include what cases are appropriate to bring to an MDT forum and actions taken by the MDT.