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Suicide Prevention Grant Helps Physicians Save Lives

Depressed Teen with Doctor

Mar. 19 2021

Lexington Medical Center received grant funding from the South Carolina chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and the Nord Family Foundation to train primary care, oncology and OB/GYN practices in the Lexington Medical Center physician network about suicide education and prevention.

Lauren Matthews, MD, Lexington Pediatrics, sat down with WLTX' Queen Johnson to discuss how the grant is helping our physicians detect warning signs of suicide - in her case, in adolescent patients. 


The grant is part of the AFSB’s “Project 2025,” a nationwide initiative to reduce the annual rate of suicide in the United States 20 percent by 2025.

Statistics show that Lexington County ranks 9th out of South Carolina’s 46 counties in the rate of suicide. In addition, more than one-third of people who die by suicide had visited a primary care provider within 30 days of death, and 90 percent of people who attempted suicide had received outpatient medical care within the previous month. Importantly, more than 50 percent of people who died by suicide did not have a previously diagnosed mental health condition.

“Lexington Medical Center’s mission is to provide quality health services that meet the needs of the community,” said Robert M. Callis, MD, medical director for Physician Network Quality at Lexington Medical Center. “Understanding and recognizing signs that a patient might be suffering from depression or contemplating suicide is very important for physicians.”

A clinician and suicide attempt survivor will facilitate the training online with three 50-minute sessions. Physician practices can also access ongoing support through monthly web-based office hours, regular updates and refresher courses.

The grant money follows a pilot program that began in 2019 when Lexington Medical Center and the South Carolina chapter of AFSP partnered to address suicide prevention within the primary care network of a health care organization. The pilot program provided training and support to 20 physicians, advance practice providers and clinical staff at Mid Carolina Internal Medicine, Lexington Pediatric Practice and Lexington Family Practice – Gilbert. The goal was to gain improved understanding of local resources available to patients and how to use electronic medical records to better serve patients’ mental health needs. Lexington Medical Center was the first health care organization in the United States to participate in and complete this primary care-based suicide prevention training. The hospital’s efforts have been recognized on a state and national level.

According to the AFSP, the rate of suicide attempts among children has doubled in less than a decade. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 – 24.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.