C-SSRS Helping to Reduce Suicide in the State of Utah, the US Marines and in Primary Care


In Utah, use of the C-SSRS and adoption of a comprehensive zero suicide framework helped lead to the first decrease in suicide in 10 years, reversing an alarming, increasing trend.

Kim Myers, the Utah Suicide Prevention Coordinator in the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health reported, “Increased screening and assessment using the C-SSRS has been an important piece to the comprehensive multi-system approach we are working to implement. We are on year two of a Statewide Medicaid Improvement Project that highlights the use of the C-SSRS and subsequent interventions based on risk in the public behavioral health care system. This is another step in the ‘all-in’ adoption of shared tools and language.”

In a recent article in the Reno News Review, a former Nevada State Senator grappled with her state’s high suicide rate and looked to progress made in Utah for hope, saying “Utah recently reversed an upward trend in suicides and experts are citing the implementation of the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.”

The Utah Department of Human Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health 2015 Suicide Prevention Report to the legislature states, “We are committed to becoming a Zero Suicide System of Care.”

A Total Force Roll Out in the Marines of the C-SSRS Helped Lead to a 22% Reduction in Suicide.

Thanks to the simplicity of the C-SSRS, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was able to provide training to all support workers at 16 USMC installations, including legal services and clergy. These individuals are often the first to come in contact with at-risk servicemen and women and thanks to the C-SSRS they are now able to provide lifesaving screening. In 2014, the Marines had the lowest number of suicides in any branch of the armed forces.

An article about this impact can be found here: https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/04/02/marine-suicides-down-22-percent-2014/70790448/

In Primary Care at The Institute for Family Health

“The Institute for Family Health, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center network in New York , imbedded the C-SSRS in the electronic health record , EPIC, a move that increased the reporting and tracking of suicide attempts and patients at risk by over a third.  The Institute now requires of all disciplines the completion of the C-SSRS during any visit of any kind and the C-SSRS is now a part of both our primary care residency t and behavioral health training programs. The C-SSRS has dramatically increased the awareness of primary care providers around suicide risk, and given that research demonstrates a majority of individuals who die by suicide were seen by primary care in the prior thirty days, has increased the number of times suicide risk is both identified and discussed during a primary care visit.  The Institute continues to work with Dr. Posner to help primary care organizations adopt the C-SSRS and similar practices, which will ultimately continue to save lives.” – Verna Little