What Your Patients are Hearing

Seniors in long-term care face higher suicide risks


Seniors who move into and live in long-term care facilities are at increased risk of suicide, according to reporting by the PBS NewsHour and Kaiser Health News. The report focused on the story of Roland K. Tiedemann, a senior who, in his younger days, was an outdoorsman, traveled around the world, and served as a surrogate dad to his granddaughter. When his health deteriorated, he moved to a long-term care facility with his wife, who later was diagnosed with dementia. At age 89, Mr. Tiedemann, who was facing a third move into a facility that would take Medicaid, “locked his door ... and jumped to his death from his fourth floor window,” the report said. The death of Mr. Tiedemann led Julie A. Rickard, PhD, to start asking questions at his facility and working with other centers to identify the signs of depression. A few years earlier, after a “rash of suicides, mostly among young people,” Dr. Rickard had started developing the Suicide Prevention Coalition of North Central Washington. After looking into policies at long-term care facilities, Dr. Rickard began recommending changes that she hoped would prove protective. For example, in some cases, residents are “paired with people who are not adjusting well to those who are.” It is also important for families to ask whether suicide prevention and mental health protocols are in place at long-term care facilities. Ultimately, Dr. Rickard and Jane Davis – Mr. Tiedemann’s daughter – agree that stigma needs to be reduced so that residents feel free to talk their depression and anxiety. PBS NewsHour.

elderly_depressed Dundanim/shutterstock.com

More and more people are using mental health apps, and a new study has found that few of those apps have a sound scientific basis for their claims. The researchers scoured iTunes and Google Play for 1,435 mental health apps. These were whittled to 73 of the most popular. The apps addressed common mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, as well as some less common illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Of the 73 apps, 47 claimed to be able to effectively diagnose the target condition, improve the user symptoms or mood, and bolster self-management. In about 40% of cases, the app site trotted out scientific language to buttress claims of effectiveness. However, when the researchers took a rigorous look at the science behind the apps, only one was based on a published study. Moreover, for about one-third of the apps, no supporting scientific at all could be found. Science speak did not translate into evidence-based science. The annual market for self-improvement products and apps, including those focusing on mental health, is $10 billion in the United States. Forbes.

Police officers trained in helping people with mental health problems can get positive results, a newspaper report shows. That’s what happened when Logan Elliott called Clive, Iowa, police to report that his fiancé had threatened suicide – and had had a prior attempt, according to the Des Moines Register. Mr. Elliott’s fiancé, Codii Lewis, was in a “depressive state,” was suffering from the loss of his dog, and was troubled by uncertainty regarding the cost of a procedure undertaken to confirm his gender as a transgender man; as a result, Mr. Lewis climbed onto a ledge. He streamed video of his encounter with the police on Facebook Live, and eventually, after kicking one of the officers, he was subdued and taken into custody. The training that Clive officers receive “calls for less aggressive behavior by police,” the article said. “It emphasizes de-escalation, especially when the subject may be suicidal. It doesn’t expect officers to be therapists or handle all mental health situations, but it does ask that they handle mental health situations differently” from the way they might handle other calls. People with mental illness that is untreated are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than are people without mental illness. Des Moines Register.

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