September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Unfortunately, the suicide rate has been increasing over the past two decades. Experts have been looking into how we can better prevent suicide and the answer is there’s a great deal we can do as a community.
We spoke with Dr. Evonne Edwards from Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services about the Zero Suicide Initiative, which seeks to reduce or eliminate suicide deaths. The initiative was started by Henry Ford Hospital and has been shown to reduce suicide deaths by as much as 80%. It has now been adopted by most healthcare organizations in West Michigan and around the country.
Pine Rest has adopted a number of practices as part of the initiative:
- Treating suicidality as a diagnosis, instead of a symptom
- Using different assessment tools to better identify at-risk patients
- Training staff on different types of therapies that directly treat suicidality and are more effective in reducing suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Robust, collaborative safety planning that includes ensuring lethal means or methods are not easily accessible to individuals at high-risk times and ensuring they have specific steps they can take to keep themselves safe and get help when in crisis
- Following up with patients in the week after leaving hospital to ensure that important transition from the hospital to follow-up care goes smoothly (most of those who attempt suicide don’t receive mental health treatment in the next year)
- Transition Clinic - extra support for patients after discharge and helping ensure patients are able to be seen quickly after hospitalization
For more information about the many services provided by Pine Rest visit www.pinerest.org or call 800-678-5500.
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