The link above is to a story about one psychologist’s recent experience with a suicidal patient who shot himself soon after their last office visit. The psychologist had not fully incorporated a standard practice of asking specifics about whether or not there are guns in the home. Now he’s changed his opinion and firmly believes that all clinicians need to be asking that question.
Psychiatrists and therapists regularly ask their clients who suffer from depression if they’ve thought about suicide and do they have access to guns. But given the lack of access to professional mental health care for many Americans this responsibility often falls to primary care doctors who literally don’t have time to ask their patients this question. Primary care doctors may see anywhere from 15-20 patients a day and there’s no time built into that schedule to get into a conversation about suicide and guns. It’s a Pandora’s Box that stays shut, not infrequently with dire consequences. Having a full-time psychiatric RN on staff at every primary care medical practice would allow the time for proper screening and improved outcomes. That’s an example of “Integrative Medicine” practice.