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Skip Simpson Comments on New Suicide Prevention Education Initiative Launched in North Dakota


Attorney Skip Simpson, an expert in psychiatric malpractice, said most health care professionals unfortunately lack the education necessary to identify patients who are at risk for suicidal behavior.

Frisco, TX (PRWEB) October 28, 2012

Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson today said he was encouraged by an effort in North Dakota to tackle the growing problem of suicide in the state by creating training programs for doctors and educators.

The North Dakota Department of Health announced on Oct. 15 that it was starting statewide suicide prevention education programs. According to a news release from the Department of Health, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death for resident of North Dakota in 2011. Suicide also was the second leading cause of death for the state's residents between 10 and 24.

“Over the last few years, suicide rates nationwide have increased after a long-term trend of decline,” said Simpson, a lawyer who handles suicide negligence cases. “North Dakota's effort to address this serious problem head-on is commendable. Much work needs to be done to reduce the number of suicides in the United States, and a statewide effort such as North Dakota's is a step in the right direction.”

Simpson added: “Hopefully the training will go beyond training professionals only on the risk factors of suicide. These risk factors are well known. The training needs to focus on how to elicit suicidal thinking. Knowing how to get suicidal individuals to talk about their plans. Usually if a patient denies suicidal intention the matter is dropped. This is a mistake. If a patient denies suicidal intent and has several near-term risk factors the denial becomes another risk factor.
Simpson said 38,364 people died by suicide in the United States in 2010, which translates to one person killing him or herself every 13.7 minutes.

In North Dakota, there were 106 deaths by suicide in 2010. The state had the 14th highest suicide rate per capita in the nation, according to Simpson.

According to the North Dakota Department of Health, the number of suicides in the state jumped to 114 in 2011.

Simpson said it's particularly alarming that a number of the people who took their own lives had recently visited a doctor. Seventy-seven percent of those who died by suicide had visited their primary care doctor within the last year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Of that number, 45 percent had visited their primary care doctor within the last month.

The question of suicide was seldom raised, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.
Simpson said many health care providers throughout the United States are not prepared to help people who are at risk of suicide. “Most licensed health professionals are poorly trained – if trained at all – in the detection, assessment, protection and treatment of suicidal persons,” Simpson said.

The North Dakota Department of Health has provided funds to the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health to help promote a program called Kognito-at-risk, a free, online avatar-based suicide training program developed for doctors, nurses and social workers in emergency rooms. The program focuses on how to talk to patients about suicide, what pertinent questions should be asked, what screening tools are beneficial and how to document the conversations about suicide within a patient's chart.

A similar program is being developed for high school educators focusing on how to talk to youth about suicide.

“Programs like these, especially initiatives that target different demographic groups, are needed in communities throughout the country,” Simpson said. “I hope that other states will follow North Dakota's lead.”

Any family who has suffered the loss of a loved one due to a loved one who committed suicide in a hospital or killed herself or himself in a psychiatric facility should seek the help of an experienced suicide attorney by calling (214) 618-8222 or visiting

About The Law Offices of Skip Simpson
For over twenty years, Skip Simpson has been practicing law, and now is focusing on psychiatric and psychological malpractice, suicide lawsuits. Nationally recognized for his expertise in suicide law, he is considered a pioneer in the field of suicide litigation and has represented families who have lost loved ones to suicide around the country.

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