Behavioral Health Rounds
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 3:36 pm
TSPN Responds to CDC Suicide Trends Report
In response to the recent release of a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on trends in state suicide rates, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network released the following information:
"In any given day, three people in Tennessee die by suicide. In 2016, the number of suicides increased in young people (ages 10-18) in Tennessee, with one person in this age group lost to suicide every week. We lose one person between the ages of 10-24 every four days, and every day we lose at least one person over the age of 45, with adults in midlife and older adults remaining at higher risk. While suicide rates in Tennessee went up only slightly in 2016 from 2015, the new figures are the highest recorded in Tennessee in more than 35 years of record-keeping. However, with all of this information, TSPN wishes to praise efforts happening in Tennessee toward suicide prevention.
"Suicide is a complex concern that is determined by multiple factors, including mental illness and prior suicide attempts, access to lethal means, poor coping and problem-solving skills, as well as social and economic problems."
TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgeway, MS, added the number one risk factor for suicide is undiagnosed depression. "If we are really going to address the issue of suicide in Tennessee, we need additional funding in our state devoted specifically to suicide prevention efforts," Ridgeway stated.
Nashville-based CleanSlate, a national leader in outpatient pharmacological treatment for the chronic disease of addiction - primarily opioid and alcohol addiction - recently secured $25 million in financing. The round was led by HealthQuest Capital, which joins existing controlling investor Granite Growth Health Partners. The funding will be used to help CleanSlate continue to accelerate its growth - 45 centers currently operate across eight states, with another 22 centers slated to open this year.
"In addition to new centers, we envision working with hospitals, health insurers, local government and community organizations to develop partnerships and creative ways to expand access and deliver treatment, beyond the traditional brick and mortar center," said Gregory Marotta, president and CEO of CleanSlate Centers.
In mid-May, United Health Foundation released its annual 2018 America's Health Rankings Senior Report. While Tennessee's overall ranking (44th) didn't change for seniors from last year, there were some notable strengths and challenges across a number of categories. Of particular interest was an increase in the suicide rate of 18 percent in the past four years among Tennessee seniors aged 65 and older.
During the AMA's annual meeting last month, the nation's largest physician organization adopted a new policy to address the growing concern of physician and medical student depression, burnout, and suicide. The new policy is meant to reduce stigma associated with mental health illness and ensure physicians are able to seek the care they need without fear of punitive treatment or licensure and career restrictions.
"We are deeply concerned that physicians and physicians-in-training are oftentimes discouraged from seeking mental health services because they are afraid that publicly disclosing a mental health issue would unfairly stigmatize them and impede their ability to obtain a medical license," said AMA President David O. Barbe, MD. "Too many of our physician colleagues are dealing with burnout, depression and even suicidal thoughts -- with physicians facing a higher rate of suicide than the general population. We must do everything we can to improve physician wellness and eliminate any barriers that stand in the way of physicians accessing needed mental healthcare services so they can have more meaningful and rewarding professional experiences and provide the best possible care to their patients."
The new policy aims to help alleviate concerns about the presence and phrasing of questions on medical licensing applications related to a physician's past health impairment. Specifically, the policy encourages state licensing boards to require physicians to disclose physical or mental health conditions that currently impair their judgment or would otherwise adversely affect their ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical, and professional manner, or when the physician presents a public health danger.
Additionally, the policy urges any state medical boards that wish to retain questions about the health of applicants on medical licensing applications to use the language recommended by the Federation of State Medical Boards. This language reads, "Are you currently suffering from any condition for which you are not appropriately being treated that impairs your judgment or that would otherwise adversely affect your ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical and professional manner? (Yes/No)."
The Tennessee Medical Association has launched an online resource center to give physicians and other healthcare providers tools to help fight the state's opioid abuse epidemic, including detailed information on new state laws limiting opioid prescriptions.
The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed the most comprehensive and restrictive law in the U.S. regulating initial opioid supply. Effective July 1, 2018, physicians and other prescribers must adhere to new limits and specific requirements for opioid prescribing.
TMA has developed proprietary tools at tnmed.org/opioids to educate doctors on the new law and help members stay compliant. The online resource center features guidelines, videos and a proprietary infographic that visually walks doctors through prescribing under different patient scenarios.
"Our members are confused and anxious about how the new laws will affect their day-to-day practice and, most importantly, their patients, some of whom depend on these medications as part of pain management. Some doctors may not even be aware of the changes to come July 1. We want physicians to look to TMA for accurate, authoritative information on the new prescribing restrictions so they can stay compliant and hopefully still give patients effective pain therapies," said Matthew L. Mancini, a Knoxville surgeon and TMA President.