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Some People Will Commit Suicide No Matter What You Do?

Bipolar blogger Natasha Tracy rejects the idea that suicide isn't preventable in everyone and she brought the research to back it up.

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suicideWithin people at risk for suicide, there are broadly two groups—those at high risk and those at low risk. For example, women attempt suicide far more often than men, but men commit suicide four times more often than women. Latina youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth are at risk for suicide attempts while elderly white males are at the highest risk for a completed suicide.

We know this from research that is clear as day. But some people would argue that within suicide risk groups there is another stratification: those that are amenable to intervention and those that will commit suicide no matter what you do.

I, for one, do not believe this for a second. It is clear to me that while no being wants to live in pain, every living being does, in fact, want to live.

Zero Suicides is not Just Wishful Thinking

And, in point of fact, several organizations have proven that zero suicides aren’t just a lofty goal but an attainable reality. After a new initiative was instituted at the Henry Ford Health System, the rate of suicide decreased by 75 percent in four years. But it gets much better than that. For two years running ,they have zero suicides in their population.

That’s right. They had zero suicides.

It’s in a small population of only 500 people, but the point is, it can happen. To quote C. Edward Coffey, M.D., Henry Ford Health System vice president and CEO of Behavioral Health Services,
"Pursuing perfection is no longer a project or initiative for our team but a principle driving force embedded in the fabric of our clinical care."

And they aren’t the only ones that believe a zero suicide rate is achievable. Magellan Health Services instituted a new initiative that brought suicide rates down 42 percent in their patient population of 80,000 individuals. The Veterans Administration has also made suicide prevention a major healthcare priority.

How to Reduce Suicides

In these models, various programs are put into place but one thing remains consistent—it’s about an organizational change in the way people think about suicide. No more is “don’t ask, don’t tell” acceptable in the realm of suicide. No more is it ignored and swept under the rug by senior leadership. Now its treatment is embraced openly and honestly and organizations are trying to erase the undeserved shame associated with getting help for suicide.

In fact, if anyone even attempts suicide, they consider it a failure because the whole point of these programs is to step in long before suicide even becomes a considered option for people.

Programs put into place at Henry Ford include:

  • Establishing a protocol to assign patients into one of three levels of risk for suicide, each of which requires specific intervention
    Provide training for all psychotherapists to develop competency in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Implement a protocol for having patients remove weapons from the home
  • Establish three means of access for patients: drop-in group medication appointments, advanced (same-day) access to care or support and e-mail visits
  • Develop a website for patients to educate and assist patients
  • Require staff to complete a suicide prevention course
  • Set up a system for staff members to check in on patients by phone
  • Partner and educate the patient's family members

People Don’t Have to Commit Suicide

Again I say, everyone wants to live and anti-suicide programs prove that but it will take a societal shift for us all to see a year when zero people commit suicide in this country. It will take the right help, the right training, and the right access to services to make it happen. And perhaps most importantly it will take an erasure of suicide stigma. And while we are far from meeting all those goals, I believe we can reach them and I believe we can reach every person who would commit suicide and help them save their own lives.

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About the Author

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer who specializes in writing about bipolar disorder.

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