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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Understanding Risk Factors to Help Prevent #Suicide

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Good Health is Mental Health

BOSTON, Mass.—A multitude of factors contribute to a person being at risk of #suicide, and clinicians need to understand those contributors in order to help prevent #suicide, an expert told attendees at Elevate at Psych Congress.

“It is a health condition that we can do something about,” said Jill M. Harkavy-Friedman, PhD, vice president of research of the #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention (AFSP), which has partnered with Psych Congress.

The best predictor of future #suicidalbehavior is past #suicidalbehavior, she explained in her presentation, “#SuicidePrevention: Understanding and Approaching #Suicide Risk.” About 40% of people who die by #suicide have attempted it previously.

#Mentalhealth also plays a key role, Dr. Harkavy-Friedman said, explaining that 90% of people who die by #suicide have some type of underlying #mentalhealthcondition, although they may not be aware that they do. About 60% have major #depression or bipolar disorder, 15% have psychosis, 10% have a borderline personality disorder, and 6% have #anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly 30% are intoxicated at the time of death. (However, most people with a #mentalhealth disorder do not attempt #suicide or die by #suicide.)

Other contributing factors include: brain functions regarding decision-making and behavioral control, cognitive inflexibility, genetics, health factors, family history, social and environmental factors such as feeling disconnected, adverse life events, contagion, availability of means, and gender identify/sexual orientation.

Dr. Harkavy-Friedman encouraged the attendees to assess patients’ #suicidal behavior at intake, regularly, and at times of stress.

It is important to remember, she said, that while many people think about #suicide (3.9% of the population per year) and some people attempt #suicide (0.5% per year), very few people die by #suicide (0.014% per year).

Although clinicians must respond when a patient talks about #suicide, they should not panic, the speaker said.

“Inside they feel it’s never going to get better. When you hear that, take a breath, say ‘What’s going on? What makes you feel that way?’ ” she said. “You don’t say ‘Wait, let me call the police. We’re going to get the ambulance here.’ Stop. Listen to them.”

Talking should be encouraged, she said, as the people who are thinking about #suicide but not talking about it are often at the highest risk.

—Terri Airov

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