I shine a spotlight on what I believe is the insidious failure in our last-chance-defense — the mental health system, to which we trustingly turn for advice and life-or-death interventions. Sadly…so sadly… our trust and reliance may be sorely misplaced. I say this in light of an article designed for continuing education in The American Psychological Association’s magazine for psychologists, Monitor on Psychology (Clay, R.A. June 2022. How to assess and intervene with patients at risk of suicide), which exposed the profession’s failure to follow proven and effective methods of suicide assessment and prevention born of valid and reliable scientific research. Leaders in the mental health community condemn first-line mental health practitioners for failing to adopt the evidence-based best practices that would enhance assessment and prevent suicide.
Depression and anxiety affect my family and friends living in Greenville. I don’t pretend that this is impersonal. Haunted by many questions I wonder whether, and how, I can begin to fix any aspect of this problem. The notion of powerlessness looms large; after all, I’m a grandma, not a governor or psychologist. Still, I am not willing to be an unwitting ostrich.
Aided by the wisdom of effective problem-solvers everywhere I recognize we can’t manage (or fix) what we don’t measure. So: Who is counting teen suicides (… or any suicides) in Greenville? And who reports the data to the public? And, very importantly – when?
I cannot think of any good reason to conceal or delay the impersonal statistical data. In this real-time information age I wonder, why is the Greenville coroner’s most recent publicly reported suicide data from 2020? On a state level it’s even worse; 2018 reports are what the public can find online.
I won’t speculate right now, but I do wonder whether an uninformed-and-therefore-dumbed-down-public is the motivation for concealing this vital information. Or whether uninformed-and-therefore-dumbed-down is simply the unintended-downstream-consequence-of-bureaucratic-reporting. In other words, are we to be unwitting ostriches by malignant design or ignominious delay? Neither is acceptable.
Join me in demanding real time data. Starting now. We will have only ourselves to blame if we are oblivious to a growing trend, or worse – an epidemic.
Concerned Citizen of Greenville