39 After a Suicide | A Toolkit for Physician Residency/Fellowship Programs Appendix G: Key Messages for Media Spokesperson For use when fielding media inquiries. Suicide/Mental Illness • Suicide is one of our nation’s leading, yet preventable, causes of death • Among the top ten leading causes of death in our nation, suicide continues to be on the rise; we must invest in research and prevention at a level commensurate with suicide’s toll on our nation • The risk of suicide increases when several health factors and life stressors converge at the same time in a person’s life • Multiple risk factors and protective factors interact in a dynamic way over time, affecting a person’s risk for suicide; this means there are ways to decrease a person’s risk, once you learn which modifiable risk factors are pertinent in a particular person’s life (getting depression treated and well managed, limiting use of alcohol particularly during times of crisis, developing healthy boundaries in relationships, limiting exposure to toxic people, developing healthy self-expectations and accepting imperfection as a part of life, etc.) • We are learning how to connect the dots and notice warning signs, to detect when people are at increased risk — suicide is preventable • Depression and other mental health problems are the leading risk factors for suicide • Depression is among the most treatable of all mood disorders; more than three-fourths of people with depression respond positively to treatment • The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and vigorous treatment of depression and other mental health conditions, including substance use problems • Physicians are more likely to die from suicide than many other occupations Medical School/Hospital Response Messages • We are saddened by the death of one of our residents; our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to [HIS/HER] family and friends, and the entire community • We will be offering grief counseling for residents, faculty and staff starting on [DATE] through [DATE] Medical School/Hospital Response to Media • Media are strongly encouraged to refer to the document “Reporting on Suicide: Recommendations for the Media,” which is available at afsp.org/media • Research has shown that graphic, sensationalized, or romanticized descriptions of suicide deaths in the news media can contribute to suicide contagion (“copycat” suicides)