Zero Suicide Initiative aims to break stigma around mental health

MARQUETTE — Suicide is a very serious issue that affects millions of people each year, and Tuesday night, a guest speaker spoke about the negative stigma surrounding it.

Dr. Brian Ahmedani, Director of Research in Psychiatry at Henry Ford Health System, spoke about ways to strive toward zero suicides, and how stigma surrounding mental health can have an adverse affect on those struggling with suicide.

“This is a medical condition,” said Dr. Brian Ahmedani.”There are treatments available, and the problem is society hasn’t treated it that way for a long time. We need to change that. We need to let people know that it’s okay to admit that they’re not doing okay.”

Dr. Ahmedani also talked about the Zero Suicide Initiative, which has reduced suicides at Henry Ford Health System by 80% in 10 years, and how it can be implemented elsewhere.

The initiative, spearheaded by Dr. Ahmedani, focuses on four key components: implementation of a questionnaire, the creation of a safety plan with the patient and family, scheduling of cognitive behavioral therapy, and continuing care by consistent appointments and checkups.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.