The Institute for Family Health Observes Suicide Prevention Month

New York, NY (September 18, 2014) – Throughout the month of September, the Institute for Family Health will be observing national Suicide Prevention Month as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The Institute, a New York State health center network, has played a leading role in promoting evidence-based suicide prevention efforts in primary care settings such as community health centers.

Suicide is a significant public health concern in the United States; research shows it is the third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24, and the eighth leading cause of death overall. As many as 75% of those who complete suicide did not seek prior psychiatric help, and as many as 60% may have presented for treatment of a medical problem in the weeks before their death. According to Dr. Neil Calman, president and CEO of the Institute, “This evidence speaks to the necessity of proactively identifying and assisting people at risk for suicide within primary care offices.”

Since 2008, the Institute has mandated suicide prevention training for every employee as part of one of the largest suicide prevention initiatives in the state. In addition, the Institute was among the first organizations to build depression screening tools into its electronic health record (EHR). Last January, the Institute became the first health center in New York State to take the Zero Suicide pledge. The “Zero Suicide” approach, a project of the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, is a national effort to establish suicide prevention and intervention as core components of primary health care. Providers and programs in the alliance pledge to implement strategies to save lives by improving suicide prevention.

In recognition of her leadership of these efforts, Dr. Virna Little, the Institute’s senior vice president for psychosocial services and community affairs, will receive an award this week from the Suicide Prevention Center of New York (SPCNY) for Excellence in Suicide Prevention. The 4th annual SPCNY Awards Banquet will take place on September 18th at the Century House in Latham, NY. Dr. Little will also participate in a briefing and discussion about mental health and suicide prevention at the White House on Monday, September 22nd. Finally, Dr. Little and the Institute’s president and CEO, Dr. Neil Calman, co-authored a column on suicide prevention efforts which will be published in the Huffington Post later this month.

According to Dr. Little, “Suicide is preventable when the right resources and services are in place. The Institute has already provided suicide prevention training to nearly 1,000 staff members. As more staff are trained to spot the warning signs of suicide, we can connect more patients to care, and ultimately, save lives.”

###

Founded in 1983, the Institute for Family Health is a federally qualified community health center (FQHC) network that operates 27 health center sites in historically underserved communities in New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Institute’s health centers and other programs currently serve over 100,000 people annually. For more information about the Institute for Family Health, visit www.institute2000.org.