Every day doctors see patients who are at risk for behavioral health concerns, including suicide. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression as those without diabetes; those with asthma are 2.3 times more likely; and those with a cardiovascular disease are 1.43 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder. Untreated mental health issues increase the likelihood of suicidality.
While the signs of suicide may not always be obvious, there are warning signs that can be identified in primary care settings.
- Forty-five percent of those who die by suicide were in contact with their primary care provider in the month before they died. That rate is even higher for older adults.
- People with chronic diseases are at higher risk for depression and other mental health concerns. They can be screened with simple tools for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality.
- Increased drug or alcohol use, reckless behavior, changes in sleep, sudden mood changes and other signs may be revealed during a visit to the doctor.
- Having attempted suicide in the past or knowing somebody closely who died by suicide increases a person’s risk of suicide.
- For youth, bullying or being bullied is associated with increased risk of suicide and other mental health concerns.
Directly addressing concerns, such as asking if a person, “Are you thinking about suicide?” does not increase their risk – it opens the door to getting help. In addition to possibly saving a life, addressing behavioral health concerns in primary care settings can improve patients’ physical health, as well as reduce the time and resources needed to effectively serve patients.
For more information about suicide prevention in Marin County contact: AMY/MELISA??.
For more information about providing behavioral health services in primary care settings, contact Kristen Gardner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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