Telehealth for Suicide Prevention
Telehealth leverages technology to deliver medical care
at a distance. Teletherapy, online support groups, and mobile apps are all examples of telehealth services used for suicide prevention and to
treat mental health conditions.
Telehealth can reduce or eliminate several barriers to mental
healthcare faced by residents of rural areas, including limited access to mental health providers, long
travel distances to access services in person, and heightened stigma
around mental health. It can be particularly effective with youth
in rural areas who lack access to suicide prevention resources. Telehealth may help increase access to
services and improve appointment attendance.
More information on implementing a rural telehealth program is available in the Rural
Rural programs exploring the use of telehealth for suicide prevention, either as an entirely new program or an
adaptation of existing services to an online platform, should consider several factors and barriers. Clinicians
working with patients who struggle with suicidal thoughts should develop safety plans and establish crisis
protocols to ensure patients stay safe. Because each rural community is unique, programs should involve local organizations and community members in program
planning and development. This will help ensure programs are acceptable to patients, particularly specific patient populations such as veterans
and tribal populations.
While telehealth has brought mental health and suicide prevention services to hard-to-reach residents of rural
areas, there are still barriers to accessing these
resources. Many rural areas do not have the broadband
internet required to access web-based services. Additionally, residents may not be able to afford
telehealth services that are not eligible for reimbursement. These barriers should be considered when developing
Resources to Learn More
Provides links to trainings, events, and other resources on evidence-based practices for mental health services
delivered through telehealth.
Organization(s): Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network (MHTTC)
Suicide in Rural America
Provides an overview of the factors that increase the risk of suicide in populations in rural areas and
summarizes policy options addressing suicide prevention. Describes three rural suicide prevention case studies
including a telemental health program for veterans.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)