The Children’s Hospital Association, or CHA, recently highlighted UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital by publishing an article about suicide clusters in its latest newsletter. Authored by Robert Carroll, M.B.A., M.H.A., UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital director of intake, and Michael Shapiro, M.D., UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital child and adolescent unit medical director, the article was an extension of the presentation they gave at the CHA annual meeting last fall.
“Unfortunately, suicides in children and adolescents are rising in number, and in our experience, the cluster effect is likely to continue in the near future,” Shapiro said. “Helping professionals and communities recognize the early warning signs of suicide clusters could save many young people’s lives.”
Our community experienced two clusters of adolescent suicide attempts in the past two years. The first resulted in a significant influx of admissions to our psychiatric hospital. Staff in the inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings built upon lessons learned during these incidents by developing enhanced processes for screenings and admissions for at-risk patients and improved community outreach and education.
The practices put in place after these events are now used to educate mental health providers throughout the country to help them understand this phenomenon and prepare for similar crises in their communities.