By Owl Insights – September 28, 2020
September is National Suicide Prevention Month.1 At Owl Insights we wanted to take this time to emphasize the importance of research, funding, and public awareness of the necessary tools and resources available to help prevent this tragedy. Current conditions – specifically during this pandemic – mean that the need for innovations in the area of treatment and prevention is greater than is has ever been.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the US, but the 2nd leading cause for individuals between the ages of 15 and 34.2 Even more concerning is the potential for these numbers to worsen due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Experts state that the mental effects of social distancing (i.e. isolation) can and likely will have an extremely negative impact on individuals already struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. The CDC reports that by late June of this year, at least 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with either mental health or substance abuse, with 11% seriously considering suicide.3
In the same CDC report, it was found that symptoms of both anxiety and depressive disorders have been heavily affected by the ongoing pandemic between April and June of 2020, as compared to the same time period in 2019. An article published by the American Psychological Association reports, “(…) social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.”4 For individuals living with mental health conditions, the fear of infection and the loneliness of quarantine can have catastrophic consequences.
Beyond mental and emotional consequences of quarantine during the pandemic, the pressure resulting from financial problems like job loss cause major distress. Experts now predict that the economic fallout from COVID-19 may cause tens of thousands of additional deaths by suicide or drug abuse in the years to come.5
These struggles during the pandemic have brought to light weaknesses in the existing systems created to address behavioral health (BH). One such weakness was revealed in a 2015 study that found 38% of individuals who attempted suicide had made a visit to a healthcare provider within the prior week, usually in a primary care setting.6 This type of disastrous oversight highlights why exactly we at Owl Insights push to create a better BH delivery system.
In many ways, the healthcare system has failed time and time again to detect and intervene upon suicidal ideation, and we as a nation are feeling the effects of this failure. Owl Insights is leading the way to a better BH delivery system. We offer providers the ability to preemptively assess and triage patients, in order to more effectively identify the right level of support. If the current level of care is no longer working, Owl’s analytics supports providers in knowing when to swiftly pivot care. We provide automated measure scheduling and actionable reporting through our library of more than 100 clinically validated measures, including a bundle focused on COVID-19. Providers get the information and tools they need to support their MBC programs—driving improved outcomes and significantly lower costs—both now and post-pandemic.
We believe in the critical importance of giving healthcare providers the ability to effectively measure outcomes in order to deliver BH to patients in desperate need of support. As an organization, we are here to supply providers with the technology and tools to focus on impacting these statistics. Now is the time to act, and Owl is here, ready to help providers to turn the tide.