An important finding about suicide is spurring a new approach to reducing it: In the month before they take their own lives, many people who die by suicide seek medical or psychological care.
These patients don’t come to their local clinic or hospital for help with suicidal thoughts, but with other medical or mental health issues. They may have traumatic brain injury, or they could be depressed. They may have chronic health problems. They might have gone to the emergency department following a drug overdose. Those conditions are treated, but the patient is not necessarily assessed for suicidal risk.
By evaluating all patients at risk of suicide no matter their reason for seeking care, immediately treating those at risk, and providing follow-up care, health care systems can substantially reduce suicides, presenters said at the 2015 summit of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
“The potential is there for primary and behavioral health providers to reduce suicide,” said Eileen F. Zeller, an official with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).