A Kidz Clinic Times
Project-Zero Suicide Prevention Efforts In Western ColoradoA Heart-Centered and Evidenced Based Approach to Suicide Treatment
By Renee Joyce, MFTC
Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado and the first and second leading cause of death for adolescents and adults ages ten to forty-four. Suicide is preventable with treatment and safer suicide care.
According to the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (2015), approximately twelve percent of high school students at Delta High School have seriously thought about suicide. One in five Americans meet criteria for a mental illness and its estimated that nearly 80 percent of adolescents with mental illness are not yet seeking services. A Kidz Clinic hopes to change that.
A Kidz Clinic and the Center for Mental Health have adopted a “Zero Suicide” approach to implement evidence based practices to reduce the risk for self-harm and suicide in our adolescent population. A Kidz Clinic hopes to empower Delta community medical and mental health practitioners, parents, educators, students and leaders to also embrace a “Zero Suicide” approach by implementing key changes in the way we talk about, screen, treat, and provide overall suicide care management.
Here are eight key strategies for reducing risk of suicide and providing hope to youth:
TALK - The first step is to talk about suicide in a way that shows it’ treatable and preventable. A person may consider suicide when feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and has limited coping resources. Reduce the stigma around seeking help by saying it’s ok to talk about suicide and it’s okay to seek help. It's also imperative to help those at risk for suicide to remember coping skills, access hotlines and to seek support.
BE INFORMED - know the risks of suicide if left untreated. Watch for changes in emotions or affect, changes in behavior such as becoming increasingly distant or close and listen for statements about hopelessness or suicidal thoughts. Know that suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and be aware of the contagion effect in the media. A person appears to be at greatest risk of suicide within two to seven days of their last medical or mental health appointment.
REFER -Know where to refer or seek help for mental illness and suicide prevention. Make a list of local agencies such as the local community mental health center, The Center For Mental Health, the local school based health center, A Kidz Clinic, pediatricians, medical providers, school psychologists, hospital, and triad EAP programs.
SCREEN - According to Zero Suicide, everyone is at risk for suicide regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or life circumstances. Practitioners can use effective screening tools such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 or 13, or a suicide risk assessment such as the Linehan Risk Assessment and Management Protocol (LRAMP) or Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS)
SAFETY PLAN - Engage in safety planning or refer a person to a trained professional to conduct this process. Use evidence based models such as the AMSR or LRAMP to identity stressors, means to restrict in the environment, internal and social coping resources, access to help through hotlines and access to professional treatment.
TREAT -Suicide is treatable. Research shows that certain types of treatment such as DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can be effective in reducing and eliminating suicidal thoughts and behaviors. There are approximately twenty-two different types of antidepressants that can be effective in treating symptoms of depression, a common mental illness sometimes associated with suicidal feelings. Individual and family psychotherapy can be effective along with substance use treatment.
FOLLOW UP - When a person has been identified as being at risk for suicide, follow up with their care. You can do this by calling, sending an outreach letter or caring card, scheduling a follow up meeting, and sending encouraging texts or messages. Remind that person how important they are to you and how you are here to help them. Engage their family in the process and refer the family to additional support services.
OUTREACH - follow up again within three or six months from their last visit with a card or call. Always leave the door open for this person to return for care and support.
Renee Joyce, MFTC is a marriage and family therapy candidate and practices at A Kidz Clinic through the Center for Mental Health.
About A Kidz Clinic
A Kidz Clinic cares about the health of young people. We offer medical, dental and behavioral health services through Delta County School District and other local partnerships.
Hours and Location
- Monday through Thursday: 10am to 7pm
- Friday: 8am to 5pm
- View our Holiday Closure Schedule
- 360 E. 8th Street, Delta CO 81416
A Kidz Clinic is located east of the Delta Family Center and is on the Delta Middle School campus.
A Kidz Clinic accepts Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program), CHP+, and commercial insurance. We also have a sliding fee scale for self-pay patients, and we partner with Delta Family Center to assist families in enrolling in Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program) and CHP+.