Jessica Mathews / /

Livingston County residents and others at-risk of suicide could be better connected to care thanks to a new collaboration.

Trinity Health Michigan is joining a new nationwide network of hospitals collaborating on suicide prevention that will test methods to detect suicide risk in patients and connect them to the care they need.

Research shows nearly half of people who die by suicide interact with the healthcare system in the month before their death, providing a critical opportunity to save lives.

Julie Goldstein Grumet is the director of the Zero Suicide Institute at the Education Development Center. She says healthcare providers will use evidence-based methods to detect suicide risk and collect real-time data, as they would with other health concerns. Grumet said “We get our blood pressure and our weight just to kind of check there’s not an underlying issue – and we need to do the same when it comes to suicide. We need to ask at every visit, every person".

Grumet added when interventions are used properly, hospitals can reduce suicide rates of people in their care by up to 75%. She said it’s always important to ask people directly if they are considering suicide, and advise them to contact the nationwide Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 9-8-8.

Over the next 14 months, participating hospitals will test and refine innovations to improve the care provided to patients at risk of suicide.

Melissa Tolstyka is the director of behavioral health services at Trinity Health in Ann Arbor and says utilizing the best practices will build confidence in hospital staff that they're providing the best care. She said "You know you can always ask the question, are you feeling suicidal? But when someone responds, yes, what’s that next step? What can you do to put that patient at ease but also what can you do to feel confident that you can have that conversation?”. Tolstyka says data collection will be imperative to the new network's success and will help staff adjust their methods and treatments along the way.

The latest data reveals suicide claimed roughly 48,000 lives in 2021.