Incorporating Ethnic and Racial Considerations into Suicide Prevention to Save Lives
Innovations & Initiatives
Marginalized ethnic and racial groups continue to face unique challenges to accessing inclusive health education and behavioral and physical healthcare free of stigma. Among barriers faced is the lack of culturally competent solutions that directly impact engagement in preventive care and disease management services. National Minority Mental Health Month is observed in July, providing an opportunity to socialize health inequities and share solutions for more positive outcomes.
While suicide remains a public health concern for all, select racial and ethnic groups experience higher suicide rates, underscoring the need for preventive solutions that meet cultural needs and distinctive barriers marginalized ethnic and racial groups face. Suicide rates among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations continue to trend higher than any other population. AI/AN youth are nearly twice as likely to seriously consider attempting suicide (34%), compared to the overall U.S. population (18%). Leveraging the cultural adaptations of the Zero Suicide framework for preventing suicide in AI/AN communities, Centene’s New Mexico health plan, Western Sky Community Care, has implemented trainings specific to tribal liaisons that outreach to Native American members as part of the Choose Tomorrow® suicide prevention program. Providing this training enables care managers to better understand the spiritual and environmental factors essential to helping members engage in care.
Additionally, the rate of suicide among Black youth has increased disproportionately compared to white counterparts, with Black youth twice as likely to die from suicide. Research indicates that socioeconomic factors, including experiences with discrimination, contribute to this increase. Culturally responsive prevention strategies addressing environmental factors are essential to combatting this trend to positively impact the health of communities. At Centene, trainings that cover topics such as cultural humility, unconscious bias in healthcare and health equity supply opportunity for employees and provider partners to help bridge the gap in the quality of care received. Centene’s provider-focused, free Continuing Medical Education (CME) training for suicide prevention supplies first-contact healthcare clinicians with enhanced suicide prevention awareness, incorporating special risk populations, including AI/AN and Black populations. To increase awareness and encourage provider collaboration, Centene has initiated internal quarterly suicide prevention trainings for employees that educate on population-specific risk and supportive factors.
Centene recognizes that increased access to suicide prevention saves lives. This drives our integrated approach to intervention, empowering employees and provider partners to look at the whole health of members to intervene early and connect them to the services and support they need to address barriers to treatment. Learn more about our suicide prevention program in our Choose Tomorrow® Impact Brief (PDF) and our focus on health equity in our white paper Payer as Partners in Achieving Racial Equity in Healthcare (PDF).
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2021 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data.