Deschutes County Toolkit

The Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance and Deschutes County Health Services collaborated to bring primary care practices this toolkit, designed to help practices support the patient who  may be at risk of suicide. Although assessing patients at risk for suicide is critical, effective suicide prevention in primary care is more than risk assessment. The tools provided here speak to this broader role by:

  • examining the role of primary care in suicide prevention,
  • describing the suicide prevention roles, responsibilities, and workflows of everyone within a practice site who comes in contact with a patient,
  • providing practical tips and materials for assessing risk and creating collaborative safety plans,
  • suggesting research-based tips for communicating about firearm safety and access to other lethal means, and
  • providing important local and national resources to support both providers when working with a suicidal patient and patients at risk of suicide.

The tools you will find in this toolkit have been created, adapted, and borrowed for our use. We greatly acknowledge the work of Barbara Stanley and her colleagues related to safety planning and our adaptation of materials from the work conducted by the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center. We have also included the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, developed by the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene.

Research and Results

The “People Who Love Guns, Love You” brochure (for patients) and the “How to Address Firearm Safety in Your Suicidal Patient: A Research Brief” (for providers) were developed in collaboration with firearm owners in rural Central Oregon, the La Pine Community Health Center, and a research team from Oregon State University-Cascades. Results from this research indicated that firearm owners were more likely to have discussions about limiting access to firearms in the context of suicide risk when culturally relevant messaging was combined with the standard public health messaging, as opposed to culturally relevant messaging, or public health messaging alone. These two tools integrate these research findings.

Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Primary Care Workgroup

The Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Primary Care Workgroup, a part of the Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance, provided leadership for the development of this toolkit. Members of this group include:

  • Laura Pennavaria, MD, Chief Medical Officer, St. Charles Health System, and workgroup Chairperson
  • Danielle Baughman, NCMA, Practice Management
  • Cheryl Emerson, M.S. Mental Health Clinician, private practice
  • Sierra Groenewold, MC, LPC, NCC, Behavioral Health Consultant, Mosaic Medical
  • Susan Keys, Ph.D. Associate Professor OSU-Cascades, retired and Project Consultant
  • Kristi Nix, MD, physician High Lakes Health Care
  • Scott Safford, Ph.D. Behavioral Health Consultant, St. Charles Health System
  • David Visiko, M.S. Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Deschutes County Health Services
  • Eileen White, President, NAMI of Central Oregon

The Primary Care Workgroup acknowledges that the suicidal patient can be challenging for the primary care practice. Seeing someone at risk and intervening to keep the patient safe takes extra time and skill, and often requires extra training in how to use the hands-on resources provided by this toolkit. For those practices in Central Oregon, the Primary Care Workgroup would be pleased to explore how the expertise of our group might assist your practice with continuing education related to suicide prevention.