Goal of Zero Suicide as a Model for Community Transformation

–submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Valerie Johnson

Edward CoffeyDr. Edward Coffey, President & CEO of the Menninger Clinic, as well as Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences & Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, was in Madison June 7-8 for a collaborative meeting of 150 health and other community organizations to discuss treatment of depression and the goal of zero suicide.  He spoke at our meeting of June 8th about his work in this field.

Assisted by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, research and work to reach a goal of Perfect Depression Care (PDC) has been a focus for Dr. Coffey in recent years.  He noted that suicide rates in the US  have increased over the last 15 years, especially among middle-aged white males, and the rate in Wisconsin is now at 13.5 per 100,000, although Dane County has a lower rate.

PDC became a goal of both the Institute of Medicine & the American Psychiatric Association when each issued reports indicating that the mental health care system was in chaos and needed a total overhaul.  Dr. Coffey said there are six dimensions to achieving PDC:  Safe; Effective; Patient-centered; Timely; Efficient & Equitable.  He described rules developed to attain these goals.  As to why perfection is sought, he noted that a 99.9% effectiveness rate would result in 12 babies delivered to the wrong parents and 2 unsafe landings at Houston airport daily, among other things.  Therefore, the goal to deal with suicide is to eliminate it, not just to reduce it dramatically.  There must be a planned care model for treatment of depression that will be a system in which an informed, activated patient who has productive interaction with the health care professional treating the patient is the result.  The six dimensions to achieve PDC are achieved only when treatment is perfectly safe and the patient is 100% satisfied that the other five dimensions have been met.  Efforts to implement such a system at the Henry Ford Behavioral Health Sciences where he works have seen significant decreases in suicide rates there.  The audacity of seeking perfection was noted by Dr. Coffey but he emphasized that anything less is unsatisfactory.  In 2012, the US government adopted the concept of zero suicide in its report on suicide.  In Wisconsin, there is a state wide suicide prevention strategy, but it has not endorsed the zero suicide goal to date.

Dr. Coffey concluded his presentation with a challenge to the Madison community to become the healthiest community in America even as he works toward that in his own community of Houston.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video. 

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