Project Zero: Every One Matters

Improving response to and prevention of suicide in the Fox Valley region

Full Project Name:Project Zero: Every One MattersPrimary Community Organization:Winnebago County Health DepartmentPrimary Academic Partner:Sara Kohlbeck, MPH, Comprehensive Injury CenterAward Amount:316,760
Award Date
January2020
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:


In the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin, suicide rates have increased 66% over the last decade. Suicide rates are highest among middle-age men, individuals in certain professions, veterans, and the LGBT community. Local health and behavioral health care systems lack the tools and capacity to properly manage patients who are at risk for suicide. In addition, nearly 50% of mental health care providers in the region feel they lack adequate training to manage suicidal patients.

Through this award, project partners aim to reduce the rate of suicide in the tri-county region by implementing a Zero Suicide framework to improve the ability of the health care systems beyond psychiatry, as well as and non-clinical systems, such as workplaces, to support individuals in crisis and prevent suicide.

Community partners:
NEW Mental Health Connection's Zero Suicide Initiative, Samaritan Counseling Center, Zero Suicide Initiative, Ascension, ThedaCare, UW-Madison Division of Extension Winnebago County

Project Updates:


  • Created the Early Warning System, real-time monitoring of law enforcement calls for service related to suicidal ideation and attempts, mental health crisis and completed suicides, and was initiated due to anecdotal evidence of an increase of calls to law enforcement for mental health/suicide crises after the COVID-19 pandemic hit
  • Formed collaborative partnerships with local law enforcement, County Crisis Services, and Coroner’s Office
  • Formed a multi-disciplinary steering committee who developed what the ideal system response to mental health/suicide crisis could look like-less transactional and more humanitarian 
  • Innovated during COVID through the creation of the ideal system response which includes recommendations for mobile crisis; the hiring of a Mental Health Navigator to manage tracking/scheduling of same/next day appointments with community mental health providers; recommendations for Emergency Department workflow redesign as it relates to treating mental health/suicide crisis; involvement and inclusion of certified peer specialists and utilization of peer run respite instead of inpatient treatment as the only option

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