Trinity Health Michigan is joining a new nationwide network of hospitals collaborating on suicide prevention.
Research shows nearly half the people who die by suicide interact with the health care system in the month before their death, providing a critical opportunity to save lives.
Julie Goldstein Grumet, vice president for suicide prevention strategy at the Education Development Center and director of the Zero Suicide Institute, said health care providers will use evidence-based methods to detect suicide risk and collect real-time data, as they would with other health concerns.
“We get our blood pressure and our weight just to kind of check there’s not an underlying issue, and we need to do the same when it comes to suicide,” Goldstein Grumet urged. “We need to ask at every visit, every person.”
Grumet pointed out when interventions are used properly, hospitals can reduce suicide rates of people in their care by up to 75%. She argued it is always important to ask people directly if they are considering suicide, and advise them to contact the nationwide Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Over the next 14 months, participating hospitals will test and refine innovations to improve the care provided to patients at risk of suicide.
Melissa Tolstyka, director of behavioral health services at Trinity Health in Ann Arbor, said utilizing the best practices will build confidence in hospital staff they are providing the best care.
“You know you can always ask the question, are you feeling suicidal? But when someone responds, yes, what’s that next step?” Tolstyka outlined. “What can you do to put that patient at ease but also what can you do to feel confident that you can have that conversation?”
Tolstyka added data collection will be imperative to the new network’s success and will help staff adjust their methods and treatments along the way. The latest data reveal suicide claimed roughly 48,000 lives in 2021.
This story was written by Kathryn Carley, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.