Mental Health

October 16, 2023

Initiative seeks to aid youth at risk for suicide

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has joined a national initiative to better identify and care for youth at risk for suicide.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has joined a national initiative to better identify and care for youth at risk for suicide.

The hospital recently received a $100,000, two-year grant as part of the second cohort of the Preventing Youth Suicide National Collaborative, an initiative focused on normalizing suicide prevention and care practices for staff, people at risk and their families as the expected standard of care.

“Because suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents, we have to continue to talk about it,” said Heather Kreth, MD, PsyD, associate professor and clinical director of Inpatient Behavioral Health at Monroe Carell. “We want to help elevate that mental health is part of the overall health of children and adolescents.

“Children’s hospitals are increasingly an entry point of care — we are playing a major role in the access to care for children and families in crisis.”

Kreth leads a team including Barron Frazier, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Delana Vallery, senior program manager, Patient Safety Team, and Reneese Kincaid, director, Behavioral Health Operational Control Center, who will attend an intensive training session this fall to equip them to train and engage others at Monroe Carell in process improvement work around suicide prevention.

Preventing Youth Suicide is a Cardinal Health Foundation National Collaborative — an initiative of Cardinal Health, the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and the Zero Suicide Institute at the nonprofit Education Development Center — that awards grants to children’s hospitals and health systems. It is the first of its kind with the intent to develop a pediatric evidence-based approach to improve the identification and care of children at risk for suicide.

The grants will provide support for these recipients to implement a framework developed by the Zero Suicide Institute, which seeks to make health care settings safer and more compassionate for people with suicidal thoughts and urges.

Monroe Carell joins 29 other pediatric health care organizations in the collaborative focused on building stronger care systems for children and youth at risk of suicide.

“For much of the past decade, we have experienced rising numbers of youth presenting to us in crisis. A national state of emergency in children’s mental health was finally declared in 2021,” said Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, president of Monroe Carell and a member of the CHA board of trustees.

“I am so pleased that our teams have joined this collaborative that will help participating children’s hospitals and health systems better track, share and implement best practices around suicide prevention so that we can be a part of both improving and normalizing care.”