What do you do if you run into a patient or colleague or a loved one in despair?
As the weeks of sheltering in place turn to months, you might notice that more people are finding it difficult to maintain hope. Depression, addiction and despair are on the rise. So is suicide.
You may have read about Dr. Lorna Breen. She was a top ER physician in New Your City who herself was treated for COVID-19. Then she took her own life.
In the pre-COVID world, physicians experienced twice the incidence of suicide as the general population. According to a recent Medscape study, one in four physicians contemplated suicide in the past year.
Did you know that someone with financial concerns is twice as likely to consider suicide than those without financial worries?
Further, lack of human connection increases the risk of suicide.
What can YOU do?
You can make a positive difference for someone in pain. Here's how.
Ask Two Questions
If you run into someone in physical, emotional or financial pain, here are two questions you can ask:
1. Where does it hurt?
2. How can I help?
Ask Three Follow-Up Questions
If you hear despair, here are three follow up questions:
1. Have you thought about hurting yourself?
2. Do you have a plan?
3. Do you have the means to do it?
If you think that someone is at risk of suicide, err on the side of conservatism. Advise this person to seek professional help.
Don't worry about planting the seed of suicide; it's either there or it's not there.
Experience shows that people answer these questions truthfully.
You never know what has happened in the lives of others. One simple act of kindness could make the difference between life and death for someone who is suffering.
We're all in this together. We'll get through it together.