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Focusing on suicide prevention

Demystifying resources and training care teams to promote suicide intervention

by Danny Gladden, MBA, LCSW | Caitlin Thompson, PhD

Published on 9/16/2022
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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In general, 45% of individuals who die by suicide will have seen their primary healthcare provider within one month of their death, but only 20% will have seen a mental health professional.

During the last few years, there has been an increased awareness and focus on mental health. Despite the increased availability of mental health apps and virtual connections to providers, the demand for services is still high. Recently, a national three-digit crisis number, 988, was rolled out in the US to help connect anyone in need with suicide prevention and crisis resources.

What can health systems and providers do on a larger scale to help prevent suicide?

In this episode, Danny Gladden, Director of Behavioral Health at Oracle Cerner, talks with Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Clinical Psychologist and Chief Clinical Officer at Red Duke Strategies, who formerly served as the National Director of Suicide Prevention at Veterans Affairs.

Hear them discuss:

  • Demystifying crisis lines—what happens on the call, how it's utilized by patients and providers (2:34)
  • With the increase in mental health screenings at non-behavioral appointments, the importance of training, and how to help your non-behavioral staff feel comfortable talking about mental health and suicide with patients (6:47)
  • How asking if someone is suicidal opens doors to conversation (9:30)
  • The availability of training and safety plans to help staff (12:10)
  • Non-behavioral staff mental health check-ins during appointments (15:10)
  • Safer Communities Act and risk mitigation that has helped (17:00)
  • New areas of research, interventions (18:25)

Notable quotes:

“I think that part of what needs to happen in talking about suicide, both with clients but with each other, is to get us get more comfortable in talking about it.” - Dr. Caitlin Thompson
“Suicidal thoughts are very normal and they're not bad or good. They are, from a medical model, a symptom by which we want to focus then on intervention.” - Danny Gladden