We pay great attention to the homicide cases that take place every year and lament the happenings while hoping for humans to regain their humanity. However, we continue to forget about suicide cases in all this, especially when it comes to all those returning war vets who are to proud, or too scared to seek counseling for fear their Second Amendment rights will be forsaken by an executive branch that placed them on the DHS Terrorist Watch list.
Suicide cases, and not just those involving vets, have been on the rise in past several years and currently there are 3 times more people dying with suicides in America than are dying from homicide. Even breast cancer deaths are nothing compared to the number of people taking away their lives with their own hands. This is a point to ponder and some people are determined to break the trend.
The Propaganda and the Real Issues
Progressive liberals are famous for using suicide statistics in their “gun violence” propaganda to boost their arguments in favor of banning and curtailing firearms acquisition for law abiding citizens. Yet at the same time, the left has led the fight for making assisted suicide legal. But what about preventing suicide and getting this outside of the propaganda? You can OD on pills easier than trying to buy a gun anyways right?
Recently, NPR did a great report on a worthy goal of eliminating all suicides, and mentioned the comments of the head of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Thomas Insel. He got ready to retire from his job while stating the increasing number of suicides as his greatest regrets. It is quite shocking for him and for every American that suicide rates have been rising in the region while homicide rates are declining for more than 2 decades now.
Insel could not take this, according to the story, and he decided to step down from his job. Even more disappointing is the fact that these death by your own hand rates have increased despite great efforts within the country such as awareness programs, midnight walks, dedicated hotlines etc., and even the very efforts of our team here at SOS. Looking at the statistics we find out that in 2013 there were 12.6 people committing suicide out of 100,000 whereas the figure was at 10.8 in 2003. Children are not immune from these figures either.
- Direct Correlation Between Treating Depression and Reducing Death at Own Hands?
Henry Ford Health System, started 2001, is the only system that has gained some success in reducing the number of suicides by offering hope and focusing on the treatment of depression. They have designed a very specific, strict and defined system to prevent people from committing suicide and hope, confidence and persistence are the key ingredients in the success of their program. Their efforts have given a new life to a female named Lynn.
Lynn suffers from bipolar disorder that is also referred to as manic depressive illness. Just a little over 50 years of age, Lynn has lived with this disorder for 3 decades. A little more than 10 years ago she kept on feeling like taking her life. It all occurred to her in deep phases of depression that suddenly engulfed her mental abilities. She describes her feelings as going into a black hole and attempting to grab a hold of something to stay out of this hole.
When there was nothing for her to get support from, she felt like committing suicide and that sensation crossed her mind almost every month. When Lynn was given help the Henry Ford program was not the best at the time. It was going on with the same conventional approach of helping patients when they walked into the premises of institutions and informed about their conditions.
- The Treatment Improvement and the Results
Some experts in the organization felt the need of coming up with a better program and in an effort to make this program a reality they tried to help 200,000 patients through an application for a grant to support the program. This program was dubbed “perfect depression care”. The grant was not given.
The health system put faith in the program and gave it a go. With this green signal a program was started that was one of the most thorough and intensive program. Patients are asked two questions in the beginning about the number of down moments in past two weeks and happy moments during that time. Depending on the answers given by the patient the doctors proceed to further questions regarding sleep disturbances and other related matters.
After proper diagnosis the patient is sent for the right therapy and methods that can be applied on him/her. Therapists would get in touch with the families and ask them to get rid of any items that can be used as weapons to kill or make them impossible to reach for the patient Doctors would always book patients for next appointments before they leave the premises of the clinic.
Lynn was provided care through notes that were present by her nightstand and kitchen. The notes contained instructions on how she could tackle her depression when she was having the feeling of going into a black hole again. She is also reminded of the fact that just like many times before her condition will become normal again.
Doree Ann Espiritu, serving Henry Ford as the head of Zero Suicide program, said that the previous practice included doctors reaching a mutual contract with patients where patients could not commit suicide i.e. break the contract. (Check out the “Toolkit” here.) According to her this method was not very successful. The therapists at Henry Ford have been given more flexibility on the type of questions they can ask.
Previously, the therapists could not discuss suicidal thoughts of the patients with them or ask them about any materials that could be used for killing. It was thought that such questions could give patients hints of committing suicide. Henry Ford therapists are free to ask such questions from their patients now. Lynn said that the only reason she was able to fight with her fears and depression was due to the persistence that her therapists showed towards her.
She also gave credit to herself because she thinks she was quite persistent too. Lynn recalls and admires one particular therapist who did not stop telling her that there was hope and that she could be helped when she was completely thinking of the negative thoughts.
The approach taken by Henry Ford is finally getting some recognition. Many visitors from different parts of the US and Europe have come to the site to observe the program and how it works. Group Health Cooperative and The Suicide Prevention Resource Center have adopted the program from Henry Ford and have implemented in their clinics. Centerstone is another behavioral health provider organization that has put trust in the program and methods of Henry Ford.
Espiritu entered Henry Ford at quite a twist. She became part of it when the new strategies and program were being implemented or were in the phase of being discussed before implementation.
She talks about the time when the initial meetings were held and most of the people were still wondering how this could be done.
Getting Suicide to Zero?
Everyone was thinking about the possibility of bringing down the suicide rate to zero according to the NPR story. Most of the people in the anti suicide meetings thought it was impossible to bring the number down to zero but there were some who were ready to try. After doing all the discussions during meetings and mostly getting pessimistic response from the people that were going to be involved in the program, the system was given a start and results could be seen abruptly.
Brian Ahmedani, who is an epidemiologist at Henry Ford tells that the statewide figures are showing an increase in the number of suicides per year whereas the Henry Ford health system has been keeping that number low and steady. It is also being brought under consideration that health costs could be brought down a great deal by focusing on treating depression in people.
It must not be forgotten here that when depression is not treated it gives us the gifts of hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Henry Ford has done a great job by keeping its number of employees always up to the requirement despite the training costs.
Henry Ford has been busying too much in helping people stay away from suicide despite their mental conditions. It did not find the time to calculate the costs of the treatment for patients as well as the organization itself. Centerstone is the organization that invested time in calculating the costs of the program. Centerstone did this by calculating the costs of the program on 200 patients. The costs were calculated for a year and it was found out that avoiding emergency admissions and long term hospitalizations saved a huge sum of $400,000.
Espiritu has talked about the spirit of zero suicide program and clarified the philosophy behind it. She said that people could argue that reducing suicide should have been enough and that we should not focus putting the suicide number down to zero. She said that the program wants zero suicide because this is something we would always want for ourselves and our families. If we let just 1 person commit suicide, this person could turn out to be our son, daughter or parent.
She said that it is nearly impossible to bring this number down to zero but her health system will continue to follow it as a goal.
When it comes to Lynn, in her words she has not been cured. The program she went through at Henry Ford was more like enlightenment for her.
She believes that this program taught her some lessons about her life rather than curing her. She says that she has accepted bipolar condition as part of her life but taken it as a challenge. She thinks that the program has taught her how to live. She also considers her case a story that could be mentioned under the success stories of the Henry Ford program.
But many veterans and their families have noticed that seeking treatment for brain injuries and depression lead to questionnaires about guns in the home, and quite frankly see this as a direct attack on their firearms rights. Unless and until the government stops using things like this as a pretextual tool to disarm law abiding citizens, attorney and former U.S. Marine, Michael Ehline says:
we will probably continue to see a rise in military deaths by suicide. Vets just don’t trust a government that is now flooding the country with the very same people they were fighting overseas, and would rather deal with depression than be disarmed. That is just a cold, hard fact.
Ehline says that the government should focus on school voucher programs to allow parents to send their kids to the school of their choice, and re institute the Civilian Marksmanship Program in those schools, as a method of breaking up the anti self defense, unionized power-structure in the public education system, thereby increasing the chances of vets and others seeking help for things like depression.
The bottom line is that vets who swore an oath to defend the Constitution can clearly see that the rights they swore to defend are being taken from them, and they feel like they are under attack by public school teachers, VA doctors and the news media. If they had some security in knowing they were not being consistently targeted by bureaucrats and “journalists,” they would probably seek treatment.
Correlation does not mean causation. Taking away a vet’s gun will not prevent him or her from killing himself, and will “probably increase the chances of that happening” said Ehline. It’s time to stop playing silly games and start helping vets deal with depression. It is not a crime to be depressed and certainly does more harm than good to allow Uncle Same to come between patients and doctors.
should have the same duties of confidentiality as a priest to a parishioner says Ehline.
What do you think? Do you think more vets would seek depression care if they did not have to fear being disarmed by the VA or an Obamacare edict?