Zero Suicide in Wisconsin

NEW!! Zero Suicide Training Call for Applications is Live!

June 20-21, 2019, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA) is inviting applications from eligible entities to participate in the WI Zero Suicide Training. The Wisconsin training will walk participants through the seven elements of the Zero Suicide toolkit, providing background about the resources and rationale for each and descriptions about how different types of organizations have implemented these elements in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

We ask for teams with a minimum of three staff from health/behavioral health care organizations to attend. A one-year learning community is included for training participants. Note: language from an eNews on 1/8 stated "at least four individuals." This is incorrect. Please refer to the Call for Applications for the updated eligibility requirements. 

Download the pdf of the Call for Applications here. 


About Zero Suicide

Prevent Suicide Wisconsin, along with other state, organizational and corporate entities have embraced the notion of Zero Suicide. There has been a lot of buzz in the media and in the medical community about “Zero Suicide”.  In many cases, it has been either ignored or laughed at. “There is no such thing as zero suicides. We can’t stop them all.” Or, “Why set a goal that is unattainable?”

But, let’s look at it another way. If we don’t have a goal of ZERO, what number should it be? Should we say that dropping the number of suicides in Wisconsin from over 750 per year to 650 is acceptable? Or 500? How about 300?  Of course, dropping the number is a good thing – but what about those families and loved ones of those who still die by suicide? Do they see that?

Zero Suicide is a basic commitment to suicide prevention in the healthcare and behavioral healthcare systems. Zero Suicide is based on a systematic approach to quality improvement; it does not rely on the heroic efforts of individual clinicians but rather the conscientious and consistent use of specific tools and strategies throughout organizations.  Just as health systems have been able to initiate systematic practices and policies that alleviate medical errors and falls, the Zero Suicide Model can and has reduced the number of suicides by individuals.

The Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Michigan has shown great success with this initiative.  There, a team of those involved with patient care and quality improvement were able to develop its Perfect Depression Care Model, making suicide prevention its primary goal. By use of promising and evidence-based practices, HFHS was able to reduce the suicide rate among plan members by 80 percent.

Intrigued by the results of the Perfect Depression Care Model, in 2013 and 2014 Mental Health America of Wisconsin put together teams to spend two days at HFHS for a  Perfect Depression Care Academy training. Each team consisted of two to three people from organizations around the state with the plan that they would return to their facilities and begin initiating these practices in their own systems. The organizations were varied; from small private behavioral health clinics, to a large multi-county public system provider, to full service health systems. The response of these organizations was enthusiastic.

Since that time MHA Wisconsin has continued to coordinate yearly trainings, first in coordination with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and their Zero Suicide Academy (2015 and 2016) and more recent through a Zero Suicide training customized for Wisconsin organizaitons (2017 and 2018). The trainings are followed by a one year learning community which supports implementation of Zero Suicide policies and practices. These efforts have been supported by grant funding from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Organizational Self-Study online portal is available on

Here are some new features you might want to check out on the Zero Suicide website:

  • Research and Outcomes: Currently, you'll find a roundup of foundational Zero Suicide research articles. Soon, you'll be able to read outcome stories from Zero Suicide implementers around the country.
  • Evidence Tabs: Each element on the Toolkit now has a tab describing the research base behind the element.
  • Populations and Settings: Learn more about how the Zero Suicide framework is adaptable to a variety of unique populations and care settings and access relevant readings and tools.
  • Community Resources: Implementation tools submitted by Zero Suicide implementation teams can now be filtered in a search.


WSZSA contacts

Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy -

WSZSA Groups/References

Coming soon.

Site search

2018 Zero Suicide Topic Calls

October 24: Jail Suicide Prevention 

See notes here and attachments below:

DOC 350.17 on Suicide Prevention

Emergency Services Jail Assessment


May 25: Death Review Teams

Denise Wirth (Eau Claire City-County Health Department) and Debbie Rueber (Kenosha County Division of Health)  discussed death review teams. The “Self-Harm Death Analysis Review Team  (SDART) Toolkit” was referenced throughout the presentation. Notes from the call >>

DQA’s report on reportable suicide deaths in Wisconsin

January 25: Pathway to Care

Jenna Heise, Texas’ State Suicide Prevention Coordinator, presented on the pathway to care and care transitions. Jenna’s work is with Texas’ local mental health authorities which are similar to our county human service providers - so this is especially relevant to those  working in the public system and with programs such as CSP and CCS.
Download slides (PDF) >>


Wisconsin Coalitions & Crisis Lines

Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy

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