A few simple questions could help doctors stem the suicide epidemic

Since 1999, the U.S. suicide rate has been on the rise. More than a million people a year attempt suicide.

Experts say that simply screening for suicide in emergency rooms and clinics could save many people, but ERs say they do not have the resources to do so, as the known mental health cases overwhelm them — adding unexpected mental health patients who would be identified by this screening would make things worse, they say.

“If I have a patient with appendicitis or a heart attack, I can get a surgeon on the phone and get the patient taken care of instantly,” said Sandra Schneider, an emergency doctor, told William Wan of The Washington Post. “But if someone came in trying [to] kill themselves, in many hospitals in the country, the only person available is a psychiatric nurse or social worker or behavioral specialist on call that day. It’s not even a doctor.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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