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
Education and Training
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.
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.
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
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.