In 2019, UCF’s School of Social Work partnered with AdventHealth on a three-year, $1.45 million pilot program to study the effects of suicide-intervention screening on all emergency-room patients. Since then, healthcare professionals have been screening every adult patient who comes into the ER for signs of hopelessness or despair and providing follow-up care for those at high risk for suicide.
Kim Gryglewicz, the project’s director and an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, said the program was modeled on Zero Suicide Initiative, a movement urging healthcare providers to focus on prevention. The program is being funded by a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration.
In addition to providing social worker support, the program trains ER staff and other healthcare providers to recognize and help patients who are dealing with suicidal thoughts or feelings. Gryglewicz lost two cousins to suicide and has spent the past 17 years researching its causes and ways to prevent its incidence.
Gryglewicz and her team are focused on two main areas of impact: Improving safety measures and practices; and measuring outcomes to track the effectiveness of the intervention. As the research continues, the same procedures will be implemented at other Central Florida sites, and then throughout the country at other AdventHealth sites to best prevent suicides and attempts from happening.