Do you know someone who talks about killing themselves? Or feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain?
Are they enduring an extraordinarily stressful life event, withdrawing from activities, experiencing sleep changes or giving away their possessions? These are all signs that someone might be suicidal.
Last month was National Suicide Prevention Month in America, but the fight against suicide is an everyday battle – one that requires all of us to get involved. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), there are 132 suicides each day in the United States – with the highest rate of death by suicide occurring in middle-aged white men.
One of the ways to help address this problem is by educating physicians, and Lexington Medical Center is taking a leadership role in curbing these statistics through educating its clinicians about how to help.
To date, 659 Lexington Medical Center clinicians in internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics and oncology have received this training. It includes a three-hour video-based workshop with a facilitator and a suicide attempt survivor. The goal is to give clinicians a framework to talk to patients about mental health – getting them comfortable with talking to a health care provider if they’re thinking about harming themselves.
Mandi Cowsert, BSN, RN, CPN, the quality review specialist who facilitates the program at Lexington Medical Center, has a message for patients.
“Please talk to your health care provider honestly so that we can collaborate with you to help you feel better," she said. "Mental health is just as important as physical health and we want to work with you to get you feeling better."
Risk factors increasing the chance that a person may try to take their own life include mental health conditions, depression, substance use problems, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, bullying, childhood abuse, personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships.
“The suicide prevention training provided additional resources to recognize patients with severe mental health concerns. It also helped support communication skills for staff and implemented a plan for suicidal patients,” said Rebecca Zobel, MS, APRN, FNP-BC, of Lexington Family Practice - Otarre Pointe. “We have incorporated changes that have improved mental health treatment options and plans for our patients.”
If you know someone who is suicidal or if you are thinking about committing suicide, please call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at “988.” Launched in 2022, this organization is a national network that provides crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Lexington Medical Center is a hospital system serving Columbia, Lexington, and the rest of the South Carolina Midlands area. For the second year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named Lexington Medical Center as the best hospital in the Columbia Metro area.
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