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Study Finds That Parents Are Unaware That Their Children Think About Death

Monday, January 21, 2019

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:   

Many parents whose teens have thought about suicide don't know it, CHOP/Penn study finds

Half of parents whose teenagers have had thoughts of suicide don't know it, and more than three-quarters of parents are unaware that their youngsters think a lot about death, according to a new study.

Based on a survey of more than 5,000 children ages 11 to 17 and their parents or guardians, the study by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania researchers is believed to be the largest of its kind to date. The findings, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, come at a time when suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and the rates for children age 10 to 14 are also on the rise.

"We identified that really large numbers of parents were unaware that their youth were thinking about killing themselves, and 75 percent did not know their kids were thinking a lot about death and dying," said Rhonda Boyd, a study coauthor and clinical psychologist with CHOP.

Click here for the full story 

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Legislation Addresses Outpatient Treatment

Saturday, November 10, 2018

In late October, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1233 establishing a framework for assisted outpatient treatment in Pennsylvania.

This legislation seeks to develop a new avenue for needed court-ordered outpatient treatment in addition to existing avenues of involuntary evaluations, hospitalizations, and outpatient commitments.

The bill's primary sponsor was Representative Tom Murt of Hatboro, a strong mental health advocate. In introducing this legislation, Rep. Murt's intent was to put a pathway to needed care in place before an individual with serious mental illness became a potential danger to himself or to others. This has become known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Over 40 states now have similar legislation.

The new law amends the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976. It creates a process for mandated outpatient care for persons felt to be at risk of rehospitalization, incarceration, or harm to self or others because of not maintaining indicated mental health treatment.
Counties have the option of implementing AOT.

The PA Department of Human Services is developing regulations, policies, and procedures for use by counties. The Montgomery County Office of Mental Health is currently reviewing the legislation.

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Cancer Patients More At Risk Of Suicide, Study Finds

Monday, January 21, 2019

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Suicide risk quadruples for people with cancer, Penn State study finds

People with cancer are four times more likely to take their own lives than people without the disease, according to a new study by Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine researchers.

The risk of patients' taking their own lives varied by the type of cancer they had, as well as such factors as age and gender.

Overall, people with lung, head and neck, and bladder and testicular cancers, and Hodgkin's lymphoma were more likely to die by suicide than people with other cancers. In addition, elderly white males with cancer were more likely to take their own lives than were other cancer patients.

"Even though cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, most cancer patients do not die from cancer. The patients usually die of another cause. There are multiple competing risks for death, and one of them is suicide," said Nicholas Zaorsky, a study author and radiation oncologist at the Penn State Cancer Institute.

Click here for the Inquirer story

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Herbie And His Almost Admittance To MCES

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Herbie, the intrepid stigma fighting and suicide prevention promoting VW bug and his faithful companion and reviver, Gabe Nathan have been by MCES many times. In September, they wanted to make a special appearance during Suicide Prevention Month.

Just parking out front would have limited Herbie's visit to our staff and passersby. Herbie and Gabe thought our patients would enjoy spending some time with the little guy and hearing Gabe deliver their anti-stigma and pro-suicide prevention message. Herbie would drive into our patient courtyard so patients could come down, meet him, and speak with Gabe.

Two sets of large steel double doors open our patient courtyard to a rear parking area. Herbie has a narrow beam, so bringing him in that way seemed feasible. Alas, the tape measure said otherwise. Save for a few fractions of an inch, we might have succeeded. Instead, Herbie will visit our inpatients via video at some point and make a live appearance at Carol's Place.

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Former MCES Staff Member Writes Article On Suicide Risk Assessment

Thursday, November 8, 2018

We often share news of articles published by our staff. This month we are pleased to share an article by a former staff member. Chris Mamrol, BSN, RN, CPPS, coordinated our performance improvement activities. Chris is now a Patient Safety Liaison with the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PSA).

The PSA is an independent state agency that works to reduce and eliminate medical errors by identifying problems and recommending solutions. They review and report on incidents involving patient injuries at hospitals and other health care facilities. The PSA staff help providers develop safe practices and procedures.

Chris is a strong supporter of suicide prevention. He has made a number of presentations on this topic for our staff. In an article in the October 2018 issue of the PSA Advisory, Chris identifies some of the most common problems in identifying and evaluating suicidal intent. Chris draws observations from data from the PSA's Patient Safety Reporting System and the professional literature.

We recommend his article highly to providers serving persons who may be at risk of suicide.

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MCES Leads Discussion On Preventing Post-Discharge Suicides

Friday, September 7, 2018

A major suicide prevention concern at MCES and other psychiatric hospitals is the risk of suicide among patients after discharge.

Studies have found the suicide rate to be high for the first thirty days after discharge and particularly for the first two weeks. Cases where patients have taken their lives within days of discharge are not uncommon.

Factors contributing to this risk include the impact of life stressors that may face patients on return to the community, recurrence of psychiatric or substance use related symptoms, inability to access outpatient providers, and not following aftercare treatment plans.

Some patients may find less support when they return home than they received in the hospital where support and oversight are available 24/7.

MCES staff discussed these issues at three full morning continuing education programs for 120 licensed social workers and counselors and other behavioral health professionals this month. The presentations highlighted the importance of pre-discharge suicide risk assessments, identifying support resources for patients, instructing families on ongoing suicide risk and how to access crisis intervention services if need.

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MCES Promotes Mental Health And Suicide Prevention

Sunday, October 7, 2018

During September, MCES staff participated in local events to promote mental health care and suicide prevention.

On Saturday, September 8, MCES had an information resource table at the East Norriton Community Day 2018 at the Standbridge Street Park. Many residents from the township and adjacent communities stopped by to learn more about MCES's services and get answers to questions on dealing with mental health crises and thoughts of suicide.

On the evening of Tuesday, September 11, MCES was part of a panel discussion of suicide prevention at the Conshohocken Community Center. Panelists included government officials, representatives of community services and suicide prevention programs, local police, and persons who had survived suicide attempts.

The panel took questions from the audience on suicide risk factors, warning signs of possible suicidal behavior, talking to someone who might be suicidal, and, most importantly, how to get help when confronted with a suicide emergency.

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MCES Program Gets Attention From Australia

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Over the years, MCES programs have drawn interest far from Montgomery County. A recent example occurred this month.

MCES was among the first in this area to incorporate the services of Certified Peer Specialists into its programs, and one of the first to give peer specialists a support role on a psychiatric inpatient unit. In 2008, this role was expanded to include suicide prevention.

Two peer specialists facilitated a weekly inpatient suicide prevention support group, provided one-to-one suicide prevention counseling to inpatients, participated in suicide prevention training for providers and police officers, and developed a self-help, personal suicide prevention plan for consumers. These activities were the subject of an article in a national behavioral health publication and an MCES publication entitled "Suicide Prevention for Peer Specialists," which came to the attention of researches at the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.

The researchers are looking at programs to prevent suicide through the provision of peer-support delivered by peers with lived experience of suicide. Information on MCES's efforts in this area will be part of the study.

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CDC Data Shows Suicide Rates Increased In 44 States

Sunday, October 7, 2018

In June 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data from 27 states by the National Violent Death Reporting System.

This data is gathered from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports and law enforcement reports.

During 1999-2016, suicide rates increased significantly in 44 states with 25 states experiencing increases of greater than 30 percent. Adults aged 45-64 had the largest absolute rate increase from 13.2 per 100,000 persons in 1999 to 19.2 per 100,000 in 2016 and the greatest number of suicides (232,108) during the same period.

Relationship, substance use, health and job or financial problems were among the circumstances contributing to this increase in suicides nationally.

Firearms were the most common method of suicide overall (48.5%) Fifty-four percent of decedents did not have a known mental condition.

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Suicide Prevention