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TRIGGER WARNING: Contains discussion of suicide.

Suicide Prevention Month underscores the key role of behavioral health providers in identifying and addressing suicide risk. The significance of your involvement is no secret—as trusted and trained healthcare providers, you possess a unique vantage point to detect the signs and extend vital support. In light of Suicide Prevention Month, let’s discuss the value of identifying at-risk individuals and the benefits of virtual group visits for behavioral health care.

Recognizing At-Risk Individuals

Vigilance in recognizing and acting on potential suicide risk is essential. Key indicators include:

  • Verbal Hints: Listen for expressions of hopelessness or thoughts of death.
  • Behavioral Shifts: Take note of sudden changes in behavior, isolation, or increased substance use.
  • Mood Fluctuations: Observe signs of inner turmoil and extreme, uncharacteristic mood swings.
  • Social Withdrawal: Notice withdrawal from main social circles and disinterest in hobbies.
  • Sudden Calmness: Pay attention to sudden calmness after a period of deep despair.

The Impact of Virtual Group Visits

Harnessing the power of technology, virtual group visits offer a modern approach to suicide prevention. Virtual group visits are particularly helpful for vulnerable populations, those with transportation insecurity, and reluctant individuals who need therapy for social anxiety. These visits provide a safe space for individuals to connect, share experiences, and find solace in a supportive virtual community. Providers can lead these sessions, fostering open dialogues that reduce isolation and stigma, while also watching for signs.

7 Effective Group Virtual Visit Strategies:

  1. Start off on the Right Foot: Be sure to set boundaries and intentions at the start of every visit so all participants are on the same page and ready to engage in healthy, productive ways.
  2. Empathetic Dialogue: Cultivate a safe space where all individuals' feelings are listened to and validated without judgment.
  3. Direct Inquiries: When necessary, ask direct questions about suicidal thoughts, displaying your genuine concern.
  4. Steady Presence: Your calm, reliable demeanor minimizes anxiety, encourages open discussions, and builds trust.
  5. Equal Opportunities: Let each person have the floor, with no voice dominating the others.
  6. Network Involvement: Suggest involving friends, family, or support groups for additional community backing.
  7. Ongoing Support: Maintain follow-ups with all participants to reinforce your commitment to their well-being.

During Suicide Prevention Month, and throughout the entire year, providers wield the potential to reshape lives through risk assessment and innovative therapeutic approaches. Virtual group visits stand as a testament to your dedication, forging connections that heal and inspire resilience. Thank you for your commitment to your patients and to suicide prevention.

Learn more about how NextGen Healthcare supports Virtual Group Visits. Read brochure.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call your doctor or the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. If you think you have an emergency, call 911 immediately.

Meet NextGen Ambient Assist, your new AI ally that generates a structured SOAP note in seconds from listening to the natural patient/provider conversation.

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Heather Martinez
Director, Specialty Solutions, Behavioral Health - Market Strategy, NextGen Enterprise