To help raise awareness and open the dialogue about suicide, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During this month, organizations across the nation come together to raise awareness, emphasize the need for research funding, and provide education to the general public about suicide prevention.
Though many believe that suicide is not a pressing issue in the time of COVID-19, they would be surprised to hear that suicide rates have actually increased during this period due to growing outside risk factors, like worsening economic status and lack of socialization, triggered by the pandemic. According to the White Paper “Alarming Trends in Youth Suicide and Behavioral Health Concerns”, one person in the US attempts suicide every 26 seconds. Moreover, suicide is the leading cause of death in populations aged 10 to 24, with over 20.5% of all deaths in this age group being attributed to it.
These sobering statistics point to a larger problem at hand, one that exposes the lack of proper care pathways within the healthcare industry to accurately assess, triage, and treat those suffering from suicidal ideations. In fact, studies show that 38% of individuals who attempted suicide had made a visit to a healthcare provider within the prior week, usually in a primary care setting. These visits represent potential missed opportunities to detect and treat risk. A lack of integration between healthcare providers, as well as inadequate training for how to correctly address mental health risks and conditions, are responsible for these missed opportunities.
There is hope for the future, however, in the form of innovative, behavioral healthcare technology, like the Owl platform. Owl helps to establish a point of connection between primary healthcare providers and behavioral health specialists, to provide them with an integrated way to accurately understand the full scope of their patients’ needs. On top of improving communication between providers, Owl also helps clinicians to virtually monitor their patient’s mental health status through a library of over 250 measurement-based care assessments. This is just one example of how Owl provides clinicians with the resources and systems necessary to track a patient’s progression over time, both outside and inside the office. Owl allows physicians to routinely monitor patient symptoms for improvement and sends alerts allowing providers to proactively address a crisis in real-time and address patient symptoms or refer patients to more intense levels of care when necessary.
Owl has already helped largescale behavioral healthcare providers, including Oregon Health and Science University, Inova Health, Amita Health, and more, to establish effective care pathways that can be used to address mental health conditions, such as suicidal ideation, to reduce the number of suicide attempts that come to fruition. In addition to this, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Dr. Christine Moutier, states that “There’s clear research to suggest that measurement-based care does improve client outcomes when integrated with an evidence-based practice.” To date, the Owl platform has alerted clinicians and care teams of over 15,000 self-harm risk alerts.
This September, in honor of both Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day, educate yourself about suicide and suicide prevention while also considering how the implementation of behavioral healthcare technology, like the Owl platform, can help healthcare providers and teams address this growing epidemic.