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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

February 2014

Suicide Prevention Resources for Providers 

Primary care offices are a likely setting for identifying individuals at risk of suicide. One study found that 45% of suicide victims visited their primary care physician (PCP) no more than one month prior to taking their lives.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) believes PCPs are in the position to implement some of the most effective strategies for suicide prevention, such as:

  • Training staff to identify and respond to warning signs of suicide
  • Providing brief intervention
  • Recognizing and effectively treating depression
  • Counseling patients on limiting access to lethal means

In an attempt to make suicide prevention practices standard in the primary care environment, the SPRC has identified several resources, including a Web-based toolkit to assist with suicide risk assessment and safety planning, as well as trainings, webinars, fact sheets, publications, and research information.

PCPs play an important role in coordinating care with behavioral health practitioners. Collaboration between PCPs and behavioral health care practitioners is critical to improving patient care by allowing better management of treatment and follow-up for patients with co-existing medical and behavioral disorders.

Harvard Pilgrim also has resources available to assist members in crisis. Our Emergency Service Providers (ESPs) provide in-person, around-the-clock behavioral health crisis assessment, intervention, and stabilization services; this service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, for 365 days per year. Each community-based ESP offers an alternative to hospital emergency departments for individuals seeking behavioral health services, voluntarily and/or when use of a hospital emergency department may not be medically necessary. To access ESP providers, please call 877-382-1609.

How Optum/United Behavioral Health (Optum/UBH) can help your patients—For complex clinical situations, Optum/UBH is available to provide consultative assistance. Practitioners can call the Optum/UBH Physicians Consultation Service at 800-292-2922. To refer a patient for behavioral health services and to facilitate the coordination of care, call Optum/UBH at 888-777-4742.

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Eric H. Schultz,
President and Chief Executive Officer

Richard Weisblatt PhD,
Senior Vice President, Provider Network

Annmarie Dadoly,

Kristin Edmonston,
Production Coordinator