Best Practices for Suicide Prevention

Best Practices for Suicide Prevention



On February 27th, the St. Clair and Madison County Suicide Prevention Alliances partnered with Memorial Hospital and HEALTHIER TOGETHER to hold a training session on the best practices for suicide prevention among healthcare professionals. Placing a priority on mental health enables those that work in healthcare professions to better take care of themselves and their patients. A study found that nearly 40% of persons who attempt suicide have had a healthcare visit within a week prior to the attempt. What this shows is that those in a healthcare profession are in a position to not only notice depression and suicide warnings signs within their patients and co-workers, but are also able to intervene early. Suicide is a health issue that is preventable if armed with the right tools to recognize the warning signs and follow through with intervention.

The training was facilitated by Toni Corona, of the Madison County Health Department and led by Deb Humphrey of the Madison County Mental Health Board, Dr. Gary Behrman of Saint Louis University (SLU) Schools of Social Work, Allied Health, and Medicine, Michael Bushman of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Illinois Chapter, and Dr. Alexandra Karydi of Project 2025. Participants in attendance learned about topics covering suicide prevalence, improving physicians knowledge and skills in suicide prevention, suicide prevention and safety planning, and preventing suicide through connection.

"Doctors suicide rates are the highest of any profession"

Deborah Humphrey

Dr. Gary Behrman discussing the physician's role in early detection and referrals

Dr. Gary Behrman discussing the physician's role in early detection and referrals.

Dr. Behrman shared the 4 main barriers to Mental Health Services, listed here

Dr. Behrman shared the 4 main barriers to Mental Health Services, listed here.

Depression affects an estimated 12% of male doctors, up to 19.5% of female doctors, and is even more common in medical students and residents.


Due to the stigma around mental health and suicide, a person is more likely to approach their primary care provider than a mental health provider. This means that primary care providers need to be prepared to talk about the subject of suicide and know how to respond. The training also statistically noted that depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide rates amongst healthcare professionals are higher than most other professions. Michael Bushman, who presented on workplace mental health, discussed how to detect the warning signs for suicidal thoughts in those that we interact with everyday. He discussed the warning signs of talk, behavior, and mood while stating that you should trust your gut and assume that you are the only one that will be reaching out. It's important to remember that with the right adjustments and support, people can reach what Bushman refers to as their performance summit.

Suicide Warning Signs
Dr. Alexandra Karydi of Project 2025 discussing preventing suicide through connection

Dr. Alexandra Karydi of Project 2025 discussing preventing suicide through connection.

Dr. Alexandra Karydi of Project 2025 shared that despite more research, education, and awareness to prevent suicide, the attempt rate of suicide continues to rise in the U.S.. She went on to state that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and that we lose more than 47,000 Americans every year. This drove home the idea that understanding the stressors and hopelessness that lead people to consider suicide is a vital step to connecting them to the appropriate help that can save lives and lower these national rates.

Immediately following the training, a session of Question, Persuade and Refer, more commonly known as Q.P.R. training was provided by Diana Cuddeback from Family Hospice. This program was designed to help individuals recognize the warning signs of suicide and teach them to question the individual about their suicidal thoughts and intent, persuade them to seek help, and how/where to refer them.

If you are interested in any of the materials presented at this training, they will be available on the HEALTHIER TOGETHER website.

Dr. Bob Farmer, from HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Dr. Bob Farmer, from HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital shared why the work that HEALTHIER TOGETHER is doing is so important for St. Clair County and its surrounding areas.

Reverend Douglass Stewart, Memorial Hospital's Chief Chaplain

Reverend Douglass Stewart, Memorial Hospital's Chief Chaplain, welcoming everyone in attendance.

Are you looking to get involved with our Mental Health work group who's current focus is suicide prevention? Contact us at info@healthiertogether.net.