Background: Suicide is a serious public health problem, and training in suicide prevention has not kept pace with recent rapid growth of the field.
Methods: To address this concern, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and Education Development Center, Inc., launched the National Center for Suicide Prevention Training (NCSPT) with funding by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources Services Administration. NCSPT offers an online professional development workshop series for public officials, service providers, and community-based coalitions involved in suicide prevention.
Results: Using a public health framework of prevention, the three workshops implemented to date have drawn over 1200 participants nationally and internationally over the past 3 years. Workshop participants completing the post-test and evaluation show consistent improvement in their knowledge of suicide, rate their online training experience positively, and report that they would take additional online courses if offered. A barrier to objective evaluation of the courses, however, is the high attrition rates of the courses, an expected feature of free online courses.
Conclusions: Online training is a valuable option to help meet suicide prevention training needs employing flexible, easy-to-use, and inexpensive Internet technology. With its growing presence in the field, NCSPT will continue to develop new courses to improve the ability of professionals and community-based coalitions to reduce suicide and its devastating impact on public health.