Why men avoid discussing suicide with their physicians?

One of the primary reasons behind why older men hesitate in discussing suicidal tendencies with their physicians was the fear of psychiatric hospitalization, revealed a recent prelaunch assessment of a multimedia program called Men and Providers Preventing Suicide (MAPS). The multimedia program was aimed at encouraging older men to openly talk about suicidal tendencies or thoughts with their primary care providers and was lined to be integrated into the waiting areas of physicians across health systems.

Anthony Jerant, chairperson of family and community medicine, University of California (UC) Davis Health, led this assessment. Jerant said that the objective behind conducting this assessment was to encourage comfortable discussions with men regarding mental health and the available treatment options in outpatient primary care facilities. He added that they had not thought that the fear of hospitalization would emerge as the primary concern among such men, proving that it was important to conduct such assessments before the development of any suicide prevention interventions as MAPS.

50 percent men met physicians in month preceding suicide

The key stakeholders who took part in the assessment included 44 suicide survivors, family members of individuals who had lost their lives due to suicide or attempted suicide, and prevention advocates. The thought behind conducting this kind of assessment was that 80 percent suicides were carried out by men and this number increased in the last 20 years especially among older men in the age group of 35 and 64. Apart from this, around half of these individuals who had committed suicide had met a primary care physician just a month before committing the act.

Keeping all these statistics in mind, the researchers started wondering if there was anything that the primary care providers could do to help when such patients went to see them. With this in mind, Jerant launched the MAPS assessment.

The participants who took this assessment offered valuable feedback such as the need to pay more attention on visuals in the multimedia program, using simpler language, ensuring that the primary care physicians were ready to respond to cases when a patient disclosed suicidal tendencies, and reinforcing male identity. The participants also expressed a key apprehension that whenever they disclosed suicidal thoughts to their primary care provider, the immediate outcome was hospitalization.

Emphasizing treatment options

Based on the results of the assessment, the researchers added a video piece to the multimedia program, wherein they clarified that getting hospitalized was not always necessary. The video clip also talked about the various treatment options available.

The MAPS assessment was rolled out as part of a randomized, controlled trial. Jerant intends to integrate it across UC Davis Health and other health systems. He however added that to cut down suicide rates, it calls for a unified effort that extends beyond the primary care physician’s office. He is hopeful that the insights gathered from this assessment can be quite resourceful in terms of worldwide efforts towards preventing suicides.

Seeking help for mental illness

When an individual experiences a mental health problem, it becomes imperative to provide them with two key things – access to reliable information and support. These two things can change an individual’s life. One of the key steps towards recovery and management of mental disorders is to know where to seek help. In the present day circumstances, it is no longer difficult to seek treatment for mental disorders. The diagnosis has become more scientific and mental health treatment centers are better equipped to bring practical solutions to patients.

If you or a loved one is looking for a reliable mental health resource, get in touch with the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. We can connect you with mental health centers offering evidence-based modalities, comprising medications, therapies, and alternative programs, customized to suit each and every individual’s requirements. You can also call our mental rehab helpline 855-653-8178 or chat online with our admission counselor for more information.