Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Suicide and the ER

Suicide has been in the news and on my mind lately. On the heels of the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, another suicide hit close to home last week. The niece of one of my best friends killed herself. She was young, beautiful, and seemed to have a life very much worth living. She left behind a husband and two young children. There is nothing to say to ease the pain and confusion of her extended family and friends.

Fortunately for those of us who struggle, or have family and friends who struggle, with suicidal thoughts, there was some hopeful news today. I read about a recent study focusing on "a simple emergency room intervention" which cut the risk of suicide in half. And the intervention used was truly simple; a safety plan and phone calls.

The study coordinators trained emergency room staff to create a safety plan with each patient prior to discharge. And here's the key, I think, the staff followed up with phone calls to the patient after discharge. The first phone call was made within 72 hours, and the staff continued calling until the patient followed up at least twice with a mental health professional.

I have experience creating a safety plan. The inpatient hospital unit in which I've been a patient requires one be developed prior to discharge. While the staff there do not follow up with phone calls, I have found the safety plan an effective coping tool. The friend whose niece just died is actually an integral piece of my safety plan. I've found it helpful to have a written plan when I've felt low, alone and desperate, especially in the days immediately following hospital discharge.

Unfortunately my emergency room experiences, at the same hospital as this healing inpatient unit, have not always been helpful. And as the comments on my recently republished post prove, I'm not alone in having negative emergency room experiences. That's why I find this study so hopeful. It's focused on teaching ER staff to assist patients in need, mental health patients, who don't always get the most unbiased, compassionate treatment otherwise.

Suicide is a desperate act committed by a desperate person. Unfortunately, I understand the desperation. I've experienced the pain, the isolation, the utter hopelessness which leads a person to consider that end. If ER staff, or any mental health provider, can cut the risk of suicide in half just by taking the time to create a safety plan with their patient, I'm all for it. I hope emergency rooms around the country will get on board. A little compassion, and a simple plan, goes a long way.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

1 comment:

Katheryne Patterson said...

Etta,

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for writing your blog and bringing awareness to this. The more we talk about it...the better.

Katy



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