Data and Surveillance


The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) uses the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE) to monitor weekly trends in suicidal behavior and identify counties across the state seeing increased incidents of persons reporting to an emergency department for suicide-related behavior. Ninety-nine percent of Tennessee hospitals with ED’s report into the system.

Each week, TDH Suicide Prevention Program staff review reports on how many people visited a local emergency department for suicidal ideation, injuries related to intentional self-harm, or suicide attempts.  The weekly suicide-related syndromic surveillance includes following age groups: children 17 and under, young adults (18 to 24), adults (25 to 44), and adults (45-64). The TDH plans to expand surveillance efforts to include aging adults (65+) in June 2022.

If a certain county reports an above-average number of suicide-related emergency department visits for a set age group, an ESSENCE alert bulletin is triggered for that county and age group.  This weekly alert data bulletin notifies community partners about the increase in suicide-related behavior in their area, any trends in demographics that were noticed, and the risk factors noted during reported visits. In addition, the response also refers individuals to prevention support, guidelines, resources, and trainings.

The TDH Suicide Prevention Program works with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, and other partners, to implement a comprehensive rapid prevention response plan which incorporates community response samples for each specific age group. This response plan helps guide community members on actions they can take after an ESSENCE alert is received.

Partners include, but are not limited to, the TSPN, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, The Jason Foundation, Centerstone, CHASCO, BlueCare TN, Tennessee Coordinated School Health, Tennessee Department of Education, and Youth Villages.