Australia Calls for Follow-Up Treatment for Attempted Suicide

Though hospitals are able to treat clients who have engaged in suicide or self-harm attempts with specific and effective treatment and care, such clients are often released from hospitals with little to no guidance on how to proceed towards a more mentally healthy road, including therapy referrals. The mental health group SANE is calling for better training and understanding of mental health resources among general practice physicians and emergency response staff, noting that these measures will likely help save scores of lives. Too often, says the group, clients who are treated in the hospital after a suicide attempt are not directed to a therapist or other mental health worker, despite the fact that a previous episode of suicidal behavior is one of the strongest indicators of high risk.

The group conducted a survey of mental health clients who had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt, and found that around thirty percent had not been referred to any sort of mental health program or treatment avenue, and about sixty percent did not receive any information about psychotherapy-based services. The survey, which involved nearly three hundred clients, also found that about eighty percent of participants did not have a crisis plan to work with should they feel similar suicidal feelings in the future.

In response to the survey and outcry, some in the general medical community have noted that motivating clients to return to see a general practice physician for care can be difficult, and that such services are “overwhelmed” by their case loads. Deferring follow-up treatment to outpatient clinics and community centers, along with making strong efforts to support and promote such options, have been suggested as viable routes for effective change.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jennifer Honn

    Jennifer Honn

    February 3rd, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Well, its just that some things are realized among the medical fraternity a little later and is something new…this would then be popularized and then become the norm…it is natural…I just think proper channelization and the industry working towards making a new practice the norm is sufficient to ensure its effectiveness in delivering the desired results.

  • marie l

    marie l

    February 3rd, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    yes! seems like too many times suicidal patients are just let go when they really need some serious follow up. you know that if they are not given a plan to follow when they get home then they are destined to repeat the same patterns eventually.

  • Sugarlove

    Sugarlove

    February 3rd, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    The hospital administrators and the Australia public: are they a nation of defeatists? Why are they not up in arms about this? Patch them up and ship them out. That’s their best answer apparently. How sad.

  • Bill Williams

    Bill Williams

    February 4th, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    The problem is the treatment and the drugs used in the treatment. Dependence is created with the drugs used. Side effects are ignored then covered up with more drugs. Initial issues are not addressed; instead the patient is diagnosed labeled and drugged. Because it is a slow poison, over a short time the patient is made to feel lousy and is sedated and coerced or forced to compliance. Families are misled and friends are alienated. The patient is stigmatized and isolated. P-450 tests are not mandatory before treatment. Serotonin and dopamine levels are caused by the drugs to become abnormal, frontal lobe connectivity is compromised, intelligent reason and logic is substantially reduced, lifespan is reduced, long-term dementia risk is vastly increased, suicide risk is hugely elevated. Patients, adults, children and the elderly are overdosed beyond therapy into toxicity, debilitated and made to feel helpless and hopeless. This is why they suicide or worse. Now nobody wants to hear this do they, but now you know; inappropriate use of drugs by psychiatrists causes suicide and homicide, both violent acts. Once on these drugs recovery can take years, if ever and needs competent and informed medical supervision. Good therapy avoids the use of drugs in the first instance; this is the only effective change required.

  • Gabriel

    Gabriel

    February 4th, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    It will be the number crunchers that call the shots, not the public. Compassion and care haven’t been integral in hospital environments for a very long time. It’s cheaper to do little or nothing. Shame on them for falling so short.

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