Lecture Discussion 103

Steven Hyer, PhD, LCSW, Mark Dixon, PhD, LCSW, David Snowden, PhD, LCSW    

Suicide is a significant public health concern within the United States. Research results are mixed about the effectiveness of universal screening and intervention with patients who are at-risk for suicide. Primary care is seen as a prime opportunity to mitigate risk among patients in both areas. A common obstacle for primary physicians and staff is the disconnect between individual patient intervention and the organizational guidance on how to systemically address suicide. Both the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have developed a comprehensive guide for the assessment and management of suicidal patients. This approach involves specific screening tools, risk stratification by categories and interventions used by clinicians to help reduce risk levels in their patients. Additionally, the United States Air Force has developed and piloted a Zero Suicide Systems Approach. This process involves all staff being trained to conduct universal screening, provide appropriate assessment and lead patients to evidence-based treatments for suicide. This presentation aims to inform participants on how primary care physicians can use the patient-physician relationship to develop and implement effective safety plan interventions with patients at-risk for suicide. Further, it will explore effective systemic organizational strategies that can be adopted in civilian health care organizations that want to enhance their ability to prevent suicide.