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IOL Sets Conference as Part of World Suicide Prevention Day

July 15, 2019

As American healthcare progresses on many fronts, trends around suicide remain alarming with the Centers for Disease Control saying the suicide rate is the highest it’s been since World War II.

Consider these statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

  • In 2017, there were 13.42 suicides per 100,000 people.
  • There’s an average of 123 each day in this country.
  • Men are 3.53 times more likely to commit suicide than women.
  • The highest rates of suicide are among adults age 45 to 54, with the second-highest rate among adults age 85 and older.
  • Nearly all racial and ethnic groups have seen a rise in the number of suicides from 1999 to 2017 except among non-Hispanic Asians and Pacific Islanders.

To help raise awareness that suicide can be prevented, the Hartford HealthCare’s Institute of Living (IOL) will again participate in World Suicide Prevention Day, sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization, this year by offering an informational conference. In the past, the IOL conference has been for healthcare professionals, but this year it is open to the public.

“To best educate a broader base of people about the ways we can all work to prevent suicide, we felt we needed to open this event to the community,” said Laura Durst, caseworker and peer coordinator with the Institute of Living Family Resource Center and an organizer of the IOL’s World Suicide Prevention Day Conference.

Set for Sept. 13, at the Heublein Hall at Hartford Hospital, the conference will include a community talk by Kevin Briggs (above), a retired sergeant with the California Highway Patrol assigned to patrol the Golden Gate Bridge, where he encountered many people considering suicide by jumping. He is now an international crisis management, suicide prevention and leadership skills presenter. (To register, click here.)

Briggs will speak at 8:30 am, followed by a suicide prevention panel at 10:15 featuring: Briggs; Dr. Michael Hogan, architect of the Zero Suicide Initiative; Andrea Duarte, LCSW, MPH, of the Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board; Dr. John Santopietro, physician-in-chief at the BHN; and other behavioral health experts.

At 11:30, there will be a flag lowering ceremony outside Hartford Hospital honoring those who have lost their lives to suicide. A poster presentation brings at 12 pm, highlighting the accomplishments of the BHN Zero Suicide implementation team, including system-wide changes to standard work in suicide assessment, care transitions and operational processes.

“We are so excited to have Kevin coming to our conference to talk about how anyone can intervene with a compassionate approach and help people so distraught that they are considering ending their own life,” Durst said.

Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network, which includes the IOL, implemented the Zero Suicide initiative several years ago and the IOL was one of the first 20 organizations worldwide with staff accepted into and trained by the Zero Suicide Academy. Under the initiative, patients are assessed using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale and both clinical and non-clinical staff are trained to spot increased risk of suicide, while clinicians follow a specific hand-off process for patients and continue engaging at-risk patients after discharge by phone.

“Understanding the many nuances of suicidal thoughts is key to helping people work past them and to a place where they are able to process their feelings and life’s setbacks in a healthier way,” said Dr. John Santopietro, physician-in-chief of the Behavioral Health Network. “The work being done at the Behavioral Health Network and IOL is forward-thinking and compassionate, and it’s exciting to know we’ll be sharing skills with people in our community through this conference.

To register for the World Suicide Prevention Day Conference, click here

For more information on mental health services offered at the Institute of Living, click here.