Leaning into Early Identification of Suicide

Written By Tridiuum CEO Mark Redlus

The current events and news over the last several days have catapulted the issue of suicide back into the national narrative, front and center. Leaning into the issue is beginning to feel as daunting as the issue itself. But, as our nation struggles to come to grips with the losses of friends, heroes, colleagues, and family members, there are organizations working together to confront the rising tide and making real progress towards stemming it.

The tumultuous ripple effect left in the wake of suicide attempts and completions is undeniable. Not only have we lost 2 celebrities this week, but we’ve lost a mother, a father, a wife, a husband, a mentor, a friend. Regardless of our personal connection with the victim, it is hard to understand why our friends would do something so incredibly drastic, and suddenly we have no way to help them. We all are blown back by the sudden and surprising end. We must do something. We must find a way to help before we lose our loved one to this end. There are two immediate ways to do this, together.

We can help at home, and we can help in our doctor’s office.

The first step is to take suicide out from under the covers, remove the plastic wrap around it, and address it. The preconceived notions and stigma surrounding victims is not only harmful to those suffering, but it mitigates our understanding of underlying causes, and ultimately our ability to provide support. It is not helpful to draw a line in chalk between ourselves and the people we know who are suffering, and then call that line a wall.

Suicidal tendencies result from behavioral health problems like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These mental health problems can be due to environmental factors, biological and chemical causes, and genetically inherited factors.

It can affect anyone, at any time in their life. It doesn’t matter to your behavioral health how successful or celebrated you are, as we saw with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain just this week. Whether you see it or not, many folks will suffer from a mental health or substance use problem at some point in their lives. Not everyone suffering knows where to go to get help, or even that there is help available to them.

What those of us fortunate enough to have access to medical care have in common, other than our access, is an inlet for behavioral health care (including mental health and substance use). A review study published in 2002 indicated that, on average, 45% of suicide victims had contact with their primary care provider within one month of their suicide (1).This number is higher for older adults who may see their doctor more often than younger persons, but still shows that Primary Care would be an appropriate place to assess patient’s depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance use… all risk factors for suicide. Suicide rates are increasing at alarming rates among young women. Young women tend to visit their OB/GYN office more often than primary care. So, OB/GYN offices would be potentially an ideal place to assess behavioral health for women.

18.7% of behavioral health patients supported by our company’s digital platform have screened positive for suicidality in the last 16 months among more than 325,000 patients and nearly 1.2 million visits. With early screening and intervention as part of the extensive capabilities of our platform aimed at addressing suicidality, and the precursors of suicidality, we are helping organizations, providers, and patients take steps towards confronting suicidal thoughts. This is about helping to get patients the care that they need, before the pain exceeds the resources available for coping with that pain (2). Regardless of where you find help from your healthcare organization, provider, or technology, we have the collective capability RIGHT NOW to get ahead of this. Let’s lean into this, together.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255

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