zero suicide initiative

After traveling with my family for a week, I am happy to be back at my internship!

Every Wednesday, at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, they have speakers come and talk about their work. This week I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Barbara Stanley speak about the Zero Suicide Initiative, part of a national program that takes a systematic approach to suicide prevention in healthcare systems in the United States.

Dr. Stanley is a Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and leads a NIMH-funded study being conducted in approximately 170 free-standing New York State outpatient behavioral health clinics. Her talk was very interesting and profoundly troubling with respect to recent trends in suicide rates. One of the most striking points that she made was that in the past 15 years, most of the major leading causes of death in the United States such as heart disease, cancers and stroke have all decreased. However, in those same 15 years, deaths by suicide have increased by a staggering 25%, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDCP], 2016).

One of the other informative aspects of Dr. Stanley’s talk was the fact that a significant portion of the individuals who commit suicide have interacted with the health care system in the year prior to their death. The Zero Suicide Initiative is attempting to support a system-wide approach to suicide prevention that would prevent high risk individuals from falling through the cracks and getting the care and services they need.

This talk by Dr. Stanley is one example of the many experts and individuals I have been exposed to during my summer internship at Columbia University with the Global Mental Health Program. I am grateful to have received an internship grant from Dickinson College. It provided me with the opportunity to engage in topics that I am passionate about and hope to pursue in my professional career.