September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day — (CBC Radio)

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CBC Radio

Dr. Brian Goldman

Thursday, Sept 10, 2009

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

As we go full steam ahead into a new season, once again, you have forced us to pause and reflect on what we have done so far. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

This week, White Coat, Black Art settled into it’s new rebroadcast time of 1130 am Mondays (noon in Newfoundland) with a show that first aired a year ago on suicide and the difficulty docs and nurses have in telling the people who mean it from those who don’t. If you haven’t heard it, you can download the podcast from this web site.

In response to our rebroadcast, we received some heartfelt replies from you. Yvonne Bergmans of Toronto writes:

“Thank you for your show discussing the challenges in working with patients who are suicidal and/or have had suicide attempts. I would like to point out that the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP)has made it a goal in the Blueprint for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy to be conscious of the language used when discussing suicide and suicide-related behaviours.

In Heather Fiske’s excellent book: Hope in Action: Solution-Focused Conversations About Suicide, she reminds us: “Committed” denotes having committed a crime, a tough one for families who have been bereaved by suicide and have enough stigma on their plate to have to deal with; 2. “Successful Suicide”…does this mean the person who lives is a failure, or unsuccessful?; and finally, “completed suicide”- does this mean that the person who either survives an attempt or chooses to live after surviving an attempt is leaving the task “incomplete”? Thank you and I hope you will join Canadians in honouring World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2009.”

We also heard from a unique woman who has experience on both sides of the gurney, as it were. Erin Boyd is a second year medical student at the University of Toronto. She writes:

“I tried to commit suicide twice in 2009 and am restarting school this week. I applaud you for doing a show on suicide but I have some concerns. First, not all pill poppers aren’t serious. And sometimes a cry for help maybe the first step in something more. Ignoring a cry for help may not lead to another suicide attempt, but significantly impacts that patients quality of life. It’s too bad that our medical system is only capable of dealing with medical emergencies and not psychiatric issues as well.

In our system, it seems you can only get help if you have tried to commit suicide. Following my first attempt, I wasn’t even admitted to psychiatry, but instead to cardiology due to complications. Would things have been different if I had had psychiatric care? That question can never be answered. But assuming a pill popper didn’t need help after taking 3 grams of effexor may not have been the best decision.

I definitely agreed that you can’t make a suicidal patient agree to never try again. They may mean it at the time, but noone can predict the future. Oh, and if one more person asks me if I broke up with my boyfriend right before my attempts, I’ll scream. Not all female suicide attempts have to do with failed relationships. Depression is much more complex than that.

I really enjoy the show, and appreciate the broad perspective on most topics. However, on this one, I think you fell short.”