Are they enduring an extraordinarily stressful life event, withdrawing from activities, experiencing sleep changes or giving away possessions?
These are all signs that someone may be suicidal.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that there are 132 suicides each day in the United States and that the highest rate of suicide is in middle-aged white men. Lexington Medical Center is working to curb these statistics by educating its clinicians about how to help.
Lexington Medical Center was the first hospital in the country to complete primary care-based suicide prevention training. It came from grant funding from the South Carolina chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and the Nord Family Foundation in 2021 to train primary care, oncology and OB/GYN practices about suicide education and prevention.
To date, 659 Lexington Medical Center clinicians in internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics and oncology have received the training. It includes a three-hour video-based workshop with a facilitator and suicide attempt survivor. The goal is to give clinicians a framework to talk to patients about mental health and make them comfortable talking to a health care provider if they’re thinking about harming themselves.
Mandi Cowsert, BSN, RN, CPN, the quality review specialist facilitating the Lexington Medical Center program, 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. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we want to work with you to get you feeling better,” she said.
Risk factors that increase the chance that a person may try to take their 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.”
Lexington Medical Center plans to continue the program in the future.
If you know someone who is suicidal or if you are thinking about committing suicide, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at “988.” Launched in 2022, the organization is a national network of local crisis centers that provide crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.