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Local Emergency Room Staff Will Start Assessing Patients’ Mental Health with the Goal of Suicide Prevention


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Stigma around mental health means many people struggling with suicidal thoughts don't know how to ask for or get the help they need. One program at a local hospital wants to change that. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Stigma around mental health means many people struggling with suicidal thoughts don't know how to ask for or get the help they need. One program at a local hospital wants to change that. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Emergency room staff at AdventHealth in Kissimmee and Orlando will ask patients about feelings of hopelessness or despair as part of routine assessments over the next year and a half.

Then they’ll pair patients at a high risk of suicide with counselors who can provide follow-up care for 90 days.

Patients will receive daily calls — and possibly house visits — from these counselors who will assess their symptoms and connect them with mental health care resources in the community.

AdventHealth’s Robert Geissler says the program — a collaboration with University of Central Florida — wants to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Central Florida.

“How do we start providing that preventative care like we would with a typical chest pain patient? The same type of healthcare probably doesn’t apply to those patients with that mental health disorder. And that’s why we’re trying to change the landscape with this particular project.”

UCF’s Kim Gryglewicz says similar programs — like one at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan and Centerstone Hospitals in Tennessee — prevented suicides along with health care costs associated with mental health-related emergency room visits. 

“Often people who are in need of help and who are thinking about suicide, often have a sense of isolation or they’re feeling alone. Or they’re feeling like they’re a burden on other people. And they don’t have that feeling of connection or support. And this particular team of caregivers will be able to aide them in their recovery.”

Guidance counselors were on hand at Lake Mary High School last week after a 17-year-old student killed herself. Her memorial was held Thursday at the school.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

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Danielle Prieur grew up listening to her grandfather’s stories of swimming across the Detroit River from Canada and many other adventures. She’s been into storytelling ever since. She studied journalism at Northwestern University. She covers local and breaking news and is a backup host for "All Things ... Read Full Bio »

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