American Psychiatric Nurses Association’s First Instructors Trained to Provide Education to Prevent Suicide through Assessment & Management of Risk in Inpatient Setting

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Thirty two nurses are now trained instructors authorized to provide the APNA Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention to nurses and facilities across the US and Singapore.

Nurses: Advocates for Hope - American Psychiatric Nurses Association Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention
Through the efforts of these 32 nurses, we as a profession will take an important step in preventing suicide and offering hope to those in acute need.

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week and as a part of its participation in the national effort to enhance educational competencies in suicide prevention for the behavioral health workforce, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) today announced the thirty two psychiatric-mental health nurses who compose the first class of nurses trained as instructors of the APNA Competency-Based Training for Suicide Prevention. Following participation in year-long online and in-person education, training, and practice, these facilitators are confirmed content experts in suicide risk assessment, management and prevention and are now able to provide this training to institutions, communities, and individuals.

“Through the efforts of these 32 nurses, we as a profession will take an important step in preventing suicide and offering hope to those in acute need,” says American Psychiatric Nurses Association President Mary Ann Nihart, MA, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC. “I extend my sincerest thanks to each one for their leadership. As they take this training across the country (and world), they truly are advocates for hope.”

The APNA Competency-Based Training for Suicide Prevention is an educational program based on the APNA Psychiatric Nurse Essential Competencies for Assessment and Management of Individuals at Risk for Suicide. These competencies were released in 2015 and are the first on assessment and management of suicide risk specifically developed for registered nurses. APNA has taken the position that these competencies and the training address serious gaps in education for nurses who provide care to persons with mental health and substance use needs. Further, APNA emphasizes that their dissemination will improve outcomes in suicide risk assessment, prevention, and intervention, ultimately increasing safety.

Through education delivered by qualified instructors, the Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention can help nurses interpret and apply the competencies to their practice, which will enable them to demonstrate a systematic approach to suicide prevention on the inpatient unit. The training provides a foundation of information necessary for expert care in this area, as well as continuing nursing education contact hours. Participants in the trainings delivered by these 32 instructors will gain increased knowledge, skills and attitudes related to:

  • The phenomenon of suicide
  • Managing personal reactions, attitudes, and beliefs
  • Developing and maintaining a therapeutic relationship
  • Collecting accurate assessment information
  • Communicating suicide risk to appropriate persons
  • Formulating a risk assessment
  • Developing an ongoing nursing plan of care
  • Assessing the safety of the patient environment
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Documenting suicide risk

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major public health problem (1). The increase in the instance of suicide on inpatient psychiatric units mirrors the overall increase in suicide rates in the US over the past decade (2). Many of the approximately 90,000 psychiatric-mental health registered nurses in the US (3) provide 24-hour care to those hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors on acute care inpatient units. It is believed that death by suicide is mostly preventable if the person at risk for suicide receives proper screening, identification, and prompt intervention from competent mental health professionals (4). With a commitment to train nurses, who compose the largest segment of the health care workforce, in the assessment and management of suicide risk, each of the APNA Competency Based Training Instructors is taking a leadership role in health care community efforts to reduce deaths by suicide.

APNA Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention Instructors:

  • Tina Aown, MSN, RN-BC, CNML
  • Saralla Arunasalam, MN, RN, RMN
  • Christina Barbato, RN-BC
  • Barbara Bonney, PMH APRN
  • Marlena Buen, PMHNP
  • Carolyn Buzzell, BSN, RN-BC
  • Shirlee Davidson, RN, MSN
  • Raveen Dev, MSN, RN, RMN
  • Lisa Farmer, RN-BC, LMSW
  • Charles Freeman
  • Inga Giske MSN, RN-BC
  • Suzanne Goetz, PhD, RN, CCS-P
  • Dorothy Kassahn, BSN, MS, MEd., RN, PMHCNS-BC
  • Myrbelle Joseph MSN, RN, CNL, CCRN
  • Susan Kimper, MSN, RN, CNA
  • Kristina Koeppl, BSN, RN-BC
  • Peggy Landrum, RN, CNS
  • Marsha Lastique Asher, MSN RN
  • Kathleen Lehmann, EdD(c), RN-BC PMHN, EdS, MEd, BSN, BA
  • Amanda Lykins
  • John Mader, BSN, RN-BC
  • Crystalmichelle Malakar, BSN, RN
  • Tanna McKinney, RN
  • Patricia Mulvaney-Roth, RN, MSN, PMHCNS, BC
  • Bindthu Nair MN, RN, RMN
  • Joyce Parks, DNP, RN-BC, PMHCNS-BC
  • Mary Perez, BSN, MSN
  • Mariamma Pyngolil, MSN
  • Lori Rasmussen Johnson, RN, APRN, MS
  • Margaret Sherlock, MA, PMHCNS-BC
  • Karen Vergano, PMHCNS-BC
  • Frances Zucco, BSN, RN

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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is a national professional membership organization committed to the specialty practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders. APNA’s membership is inclusive of all psychiatric mental health registered nurses including associate degree, baccalaureate, advanced practice (comprised of clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric nurse practitioners), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD). APNA serves as a resource for psychiatric mental health nurses to engage in networking, education, and the dissemination of research. The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

1.    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). National suicide statistics at a glance. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/Suicide-DataSheet-a.pdf
2.    Knoll J. L. (2012). Inpatient suicide: Identifying vulnerability in the hospital setting.Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/suicide/inpatient-suicide-identifying-vulnerability-hospital-setting
3.    Hanrahan N. P. (2009). Analysis of the psychiatric mental health registered nurse workforce in the United States. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services Research, 47(5), 1-9.
4.    Puntil C., York J., Limandri B., Greene P., Arauz E., Hobbs D. (2013).Competency-based training for PMH nurse generalists: Inpatient intervention and prevention of suicide. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 19,205-210. 10.1177/1078390313496275

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Meaghan Trimyer
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