New evidence suggests we can provide mental health care in a way that would completely eliminate suicides among people with depression.
A unique program for patients with depression dropped suicide rates from 89 per 100,000 patients per year to zero. And the absence of a single suicide in this population has remained at zero for two and a half years. This program, called the Perfect Depression Care Initiative, was created in 2001 by the Behavioral Health Services division of the Henry Ford System, in Detroit, Michigan. The program was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a healthcare redesign demonstration project.
Key components of this program included:
- Risk assessment: At each visit, patients were assigned to one of three levels of suicide risk, with specific acions for each level of risk.
- Improved patient access: Patients had three ways to access care and support – this included drop in group appointments, same day appointments with providers, and email access to providers.
- Weapon assessment: Consistently, patients were asked if they had weapons at home, and if they did, patients were encouraged to get rid of these weapons.
In addition, staff completed a suicide prevention course, staff called patients to check in on them, a web site was established for patient education, and family members received suicide prevention education.
This program demonstrates that suicide prevention can work.
Be aware of suicide warning signs. Take suicide threats seriously. And if someone is suicidal, help them get the care they need.