Primary care facility suicide prevention
Primary care facility physicians are in the unique position of interacting with those struggling with suicidal thoughts both before and after an attempt.
Up to 45 percent of people who had a suicide attempt interacted with a primary care facility physician within one month of their attempt compared to about 20 percent for a mental health professional.
Because primary care physicians are often trusted by their patients, they are often the right voice an individual needs to hear when he or she should be referred to a mental health specialist. Because of this connection, advocates recommend that primary care physicians integrate some degree of behavioral care into their services to their communities. Doing so will put them in a better position to identify individuals at risk of suicide who are not actively seeking mental health treatment.
This responsibility means that both the primary care facility providers themselves and their staffs will need to dedicate time to learn how to perform basic mental health screenings of the patients they treat and be comfortable referring those who need it to area specialists or other local resources, such as mental health professionals or support groups.
For providers or advocates looking for a toolkit specifically addressing the role a primary care physicians can play in suicide prevention, check out this toolkit from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. This comprehensive guide can help establish protocol to start such a prevention effort in any office. It is full of advice and resources to help educate both staff and patients on suicide prevention, patient management tools, and resources on how to build relationships with mental health professionals.