Suicide Prevention Training for Healthcare Professionals

Executive Summary

Our project will be the first comprehensive characterization and evaluation of suicide prevention training programs for healthcare professionals in the United States. Considering the large number of individuals who attempt suicide each year, even a modest impact of healthcare professional training may sizably reduce the burden of suicidal behavior and meaningfully reduce costs associated with it. Evidence generated by this investigation will inform the adoption and expansion of current and future programs and policies to prevent suicide and improve public health.

Study Overview

There will be two parts to this study:

Part I – A national inventory and evaluation of state-level policy related to suicide prevention training for healthcare professionals.

Part II – An in-depth evaluation of a specific suicide prevention training used in Washington state. For the national assessment, we will use legal epidemiology methods to identify relevant state policies, then assess whether the presence and strength of those policies is associated with a decrease in suicide rates. To evaluate the impact of a specific suicide prevention training program, we will use electronic health records to measure provider behavior in suicide risk assessment and management before, compared to after, completing the training.


Dr. Rowhani-Rahbar received funding for this project from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study Team

Principal Investigator

Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, MPH, PhD

Dr. Rowhani-Rahbar is a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. The goal of his research is to inform equitable and population-level programs and policies that reduce the occurrence and lethality of inter-personal violence and self-directed harm. He has served on the Washington State Safer Homes Task Force for Suicide Prevention and the Board of Directors of the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR).


Paul Borghesani, MD, PhD

Dr. Borghesani is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Washington (UW) and the Medical Director of Psychiatric Emergency Services at Harborview Medical Center. He is the Director of Psychiatry Clerkships at UW, coordinating clinical education in psychiatry across the five-state WWAMI region (WA, WY, AK, MO, and ID). He routinely lectures to primary care providers on suicidality.


Jennifer Stuber, PhD

Dr. Stuber is an Associate Professor of Social Work at University of Washington. She co-founded Forefront in 2013, a multi-disciplinary center of excellence that focuses on suicide prevention policy, education, outreach and research. Dr. Stuber’s research is focused on training, systems, and policy interventions to reduce suicide.


Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD

Dr. Ratzliff is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Washington (UW). As a national expert on collaborative care, specifically on training teams to implement and deliver mental health treatment in primary care settings, she has developed expertise in suicide prevention training. Dr. Ratzliff is the Director of the UW Integrated Care Training Program for residents and fellows.


Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH

Dr. Rivara is a Professor of Pediatrics at University of Washington. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Pediatrics and current Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Network Open. He served as the founding director of Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) for 15+ years and his contributions to the field of injury prevention and control, including research on suicide, have spanned 30 years.


Janessa Graves, PhD, MPH

Dr. Graves is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Washington State University. She is an expert in health services research and evaluation sciences, specifically focusing on equity, availability, and quality of injury care. Her research has informed state polices on health services utilization and her efforts on healthcare quality and effectiveness include leading state, regional, and national surveys of providers.