We know that things like access to quality education, mental health services, and trustworthy relationships with counselors, physicians, or other service providers have been shown to be correlated to a decrease in suicide rates.1As a leader in the social determinants of health tech sector, we're working to connect these dots every day. We want to do our part to inspire an open, honest dialogue about mental health and suicide prevention.
We always believe in taking proactive measures to protect yourself and the people around you, especially from suicidal thoughts or tendencies. This involves strategies like knowing the warning signs, enabling people to get support as easily as possible, reducing any barriers to care, teaching healthy coping skills, and promoting social connectedness – focusing on vulnerable populations like the elderly, LGBTQ+, veterans, jail and prison inmates, and those with mental and/or substance use disorders (while understanding that anybody, anywhere can suffer from poor mental health).
Just as our platform and our process both serve essential functions in the formation of effective and collaborative care teams, any comprehensive suicide prevention strategy should involve both scientific and personal components. We strive for a culture of collaboration – one in which therapists, doctors, patients, and friends all feel empowered to open up and share.
I spoke to Molly, a Dialectical Behavior Therapist in California, to gain an insider's perspective.
What are your suggestions for preventing suicide?
Molly: One of the most common risk factors for suicide is isolation. In order to combat suicide, it's imperative to talk about how we are feeling and conversely, listen to the vulnerabilities of others. I've seen moments of vulnerability completely transform isolation into connection. When a person in pain finally shares it with another person and they feel heard, that can many times be enough to alleviate much of the pain.
What do you see as the role of community in suicide prevention?
Molly: Stigma is the first thing that comes to mind. If we can destigmatize the way we think about mental health and make these conversations much more open and normalized, I think people would be more apt to share their struggles and seek help sooner.
What about communication and suicide prevention?
Molly: I'm in constant contact with my client's previous providers, family members, and future providers to ensure the best transitions possible. The current way of doing things takes lots of time and coordination, but it's so important.
What can we be doing better?
Molly: I think in order to do better, we have to take a critical look at our mental health system and examine the structural barriers that prevent seamless, efficient and high-quality care. Much of the time, poor communication gets in the way of people receiving the treatment they need. If all of the different players in the mental health system (including providers, patients, insurance companies, loved ones, and doctors) could find a way to share information safety, responsibly and efficiently, we can spend more time giving the interventions to our clients in need.
Special thanks to Molly for sharing her insight. We are so grateful for all those working hard to help others and those who take the time to share your stories.