Suicide Prevention Program named to Best Practice Registry

The Shield of Care –– a juvenile-justice suicide-prevention gatekeeper program that was developed and copyrighted by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) –– was recently accepted to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC’s) Best Practice Registry (BPR), which is a collaborative effort with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

A BPR is a source of information about evidenced-based programs and expert consensus, and it contains content that meet stringent criteria. The Shield of Care’s submission to the BPR included evaluation of the curriculum that demonstrated efficacy and utility as an instrument that increases knowledge and skills in order to intervene and save a life from suicide. The Shield of Care, a groundbreaking curriculum that is first of its kind nationally, has demonstrated its ability to produce positive outcomes related to suicide prevention in juvenile justice facilities. It will be used in all of the state’s Youth Development Centers.

“Being on a BPR gives additional credence to this groundbreaking curriculum,” said Lygia Williams, mental health planner with the TDMHSAS Division of Mental Health Services. “It is our intent to partner with Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) and complete requisite research in order to pursue the curriculum meeting evidence-based criteria.”

Developed by the TDMHSAS in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee (MHAMT), the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), Trevecca Nazarene University, The Jason Foundation, the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC), the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY), CRI, and others –- and funded through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial ACT grant awarded by SAMHSA — Shield of Care is an 8-hour, evidence-informed curriculum that teaches Juvenile Justice staff strategies to prevent suicide in their correctional facility environment.

The Shield of Care suicide prevention model (S-Plan) is unique because it is tailored to the Juvenile Justice environment and emphasizes a system-focused model of preventing suicide. Specifically, the Shield of Care model:

  • Emphasizes that policy, connectedness to youth, and communication between staff are essential system-level elements of suicide prevention.
  • Teaches staff specific steps of effective suicide intervention (“Seeing, Protecting, Listening, Assessing, Networking).
  • Provides opportunities for staff to reflect on internal policies for suicide prevention, discuss strategies for overcoming potential barriers, and plan how to “take action” in their specific facility context.

According to the program’s objectives, at the end of training, participants should have increased their knowledge of suicide prevention strategies, their self-efficacy to prevent suicide, and their suicide prevention skills. Also, it is expected that there will be increased connectedness among staff, suicide prevention communication, policy knowledge, and self-efficacy to work through facility-level barriers to suicide prevention systemwide.

The Shield of Care training packet, including program manual, PowerPoint slides, and videos, is available online without charge at

For more information about this program, contact Lygia Williams at or call (615) 253-5078. For more information about Centerstone Research Institute, contact Trenay L. Bynum, M.S.P., research communications manager, at or call (615) 460-4175.