The prevailing paradigm in suicide prevention continues to contribute to the nihilism regarding the ability to prevent suicides in healthcare settings and a sense of blame following adverse incidents. In this paper, these issues are discussed through the lens of clinicians' experiences as second victims following a loss of a consumer to suicide, and the lens of health care organisations.
We discuss challenges related to the fallacy of risk prediction (erroneous belief that risk screening can be used to predict risk or allocate resources), and incident reviews that maintain a retrospective linear focus on errors and are highly influenced by hindsight and outcome biases.
An argument that a Restorative Just Culture should be implemented alongside a Zero Suicide Framework is developed.
The current use of algorithms to determine culpability following adverse incidents, and a linear approach to learning ignores the complexity of the healthcare settings and can have devastating effects on staff and the broader healthcare community. These issues represent 'inconvenient truths' that must be identified, reconciled and integrated into our future pathways towards reducing suicides in health care. The introduction of Zero Suicide Framework can support the much-needed transition from relying on a retrospective focus on errors (Safety I) to a more prospective focus which acknowledges the complexities of healthcare (Safety II), when based on the Restorative Just Culture principles. Restorative Just Culture replaces backward-looking accountability with a focus on the hurts, needs and obligations of all who are affected by the event. In this paper, we argue that the implementation of Zero Suicide Framework may be compromised if not supported by a substantial workplace cultural change. The process of responding to critical incidents implemented at the Gold Coast Mental Health and Specialist Services is provided as an example of a successful implementation of Restorative Just Culture-based principles that has achieved a culture change required to support learning, improving and healing for our consumers, their families, our staff and broader communities.