Primary care targeted for suicide prevention efforts

Dr. Judith Salzer is Associate Dean for Strategic Management at the Georgia Health Sciences University College of Nursing. Credit: Phil Jones

Forty-five percent of the 32,000 Americans who take their own lives each year visit their primary care provider within one month of their death. Ninety percent have a mental health or substance abuse disorder, or both. Yet only in the last decade has suicide been considered a preventable public health problem.

"In our society, we have separated and physical health for quite some time," said Dr. Judith Salzer, Associate Dean for Strategic Management at the Georgia Health Sciences University College of Nursing. Salzer, a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner who has spent her career specializing in the care of vulnerable , is one of a select group of experts participating in a Call to Action on Suicide Prevention in Primary Care Practice April 11-12 in Portland, Ore.

The meeting, sponsored by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the only federally funded center of its kind in the nation, and the American Association of Suicidology brings together physicians, social workers, nurses, researchers and government agencies to develop ideas and methods that would increase the capacity of primary care practices to assess and manage .

"This hasn't been done before," Salzer said. "The most basic mental health occurs in primary care settings where practitioners have hands-on contact with patients. We want to set up a national network to let primary care providers know how critical their impact is and give them acceptable tools with which to identify patients at risk for suicide."

The group will identify ways for providers to better recognize and respond to patients' suicidal thoughts and behaviors and to develop organizational plans that incorporate activities into primary care practices.

"There aren't enough mental health professionals for everyone to get a mental health checkup," Salzer said. "We want to make sure primary care providers have a practical way to incorporate mental health awareness into their assessments. A quick, standardized screening will tell pretty quickly if someone is feeling like they may hurt themselves."

Provided by Georgia Health Sciences University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments