As a mental health practitioner, you are bound to encounter suicidal patients from time to time. Some of these may be patients who have been rescued in the course of attempted suicide. Others may be patients who have not yet gotten to the point of attempting to take their own lives, but who nonetheless have suicidal ideation in their minds. Either way, the patients have to be handled in a special way.

Prioritizing the treatment of suicidal patients

The treatment of suicidal patients needs to be prioritized. In most cases, the people who attempt suicide tend to have underlying depressive disorders. Therefore, the appropriate antidepressant medications have to be identified, for use in the treatment of the said patients. Then the right doses have to be worked out, and the treatment plans implemented urgently.

Using a multi-faceted approach to the treatment of suicidal patients

Besides medication, it is often necessary to use counseling and behavioral therapy (alongside cognitive therapy) in the treatment of suicidal patients. So this is what is referred to as a multi-faceted approach in the treatment of suicidal patients. It is not enough to just prescribe anti-depressant medications for the patients. Sometimes, you have to go further, and address the issues that are driving the people to have suicidal thoughts. Often, those turn out to be simple practical issues. It may be, for instance, a case where a person recently went to my employee login portal and signed in – only to find that he had lost his job. And that is what is driving him to have suicidal ideation. In that case, besides giving him anti-depressant medication, you have to help him think of alternative things he can do to get another job.

Keeping a watchful eye on the suicidal patients

Before the medication takes effect, the patients will still be having suicidal ideation. Hence the need to keep a watchful eye on them (by, for instance, keeping them in specially designed wards, and ensuring that there is always a nurse watching over them).

Notifying the authorities about suicidal patients

This is tricky, given the issues that surround doctor-patient confidentiality. But it is often necessary to notify the authorities about patients who have suicidal ideation – although the need for this has to be evaluated on a case by case basis.