Suicide Prevention: When People Offering Help Actually Need It

Suicide Prevention
Print icon

Two recent high-profile suicide deaths of men who worked with those at-risk for suicide highlights the increased suicide rate for those who provide services and care.

The importance or raising awareness in September, National Suicide Prevention Month, is highlighted by the deaths of Gregory Eells, the executive director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jarrid Wilson, a popular pastor known for his work in mental health advocacy. Both died by suicide during the second week in September.

Jennifer Ferrand, clinical psychologist and program manager at the Institute of Living, said suicide is a public health crisis.

“It is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, and the 12th-leading cause of death in Connecticut,” she said. “Every day there are approximately 129 deaths by suicide.”

Men are more than three times as likely to die by suicide. She said, unlike many other causes of death, suicide is a largely preventable tragedy.

“There is no one cause of suicide,” Ferrand said. “Suicide typically happens due to the build-up of many social and psychological risk factors and stressors that can cause hopelessness and despair.”

She said it is important to honor those who have died by suicide and to let people know how they can get help. The Behavioral Health Network has adopted a Zero Suicide initiative, a philosophy of care and a set of tools supported by the Action Alliance and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help healthcare systems reduce suicide among people in care.

Wilson was a popular pastor known for his work in mental health advocacy at a Southern California megachurch. He joined the church as an associate pastor last year and was outspoken about mental health. Wilson and his wife, Juli,  founded an outreach called Anthem of Hope designed to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. He is survived by his wife and two young sons.

“Jarrid also repeatedly dealt with depression and was very open about his ongoing struggles,” said Senior Pastor Greg Laurie with Harvest Christian Fellowship Church. “He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.”

Eells had recently become head of the counseling and psychological services at Penn within the last six months. According to NBC News, the college was dealing with an increased demand in mental health resources after at least 14 student deaths by suicide since 2013.

Counselors, healthcare providers, police officers and firefighters need to be aware of the signs of depression and stress in their own lives and seek help if needed.

Ferrand said in the past year the Behavioral Health Network has made progress in developing better screening and assessment procedures, making sure the environment of care is safe, and reaching out proactively to people when they leave care or don’t make it to appointments.

“In the next few years, we hope to strengthen these processes and develop new ways to reduce suicide risk,” she said. “We also plan to continue working with our community partners to ensure that we’re all speaking a universal language about suicide risk, and that people aren’t falling through the cracks in a disjointed system of care.”

For more information on mental health services offered at the Institute of Living, click here

What's New


Panic Attack or COVID-19? The Shortness-Of-Breath Link

Shortness of breath is a red-alert symptom associated with COVID-19. It’s also a characteristic of many other conditions, whether it’s asthma, heart issues, pneumonia or even acid reflux. For most of us, the pandemic has become a source of anxiety that, for some, reaches an extreme — a panic attack....

Jeffrey A. Flaks

A Message From Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeffrey Flaks

With the concerns about coronavirus and COVID-19, I want to assure you that Hartford HealthCare is doing everything possible to protect the safety and well-being of the people and the communities we serve, and our team of healthcare providers. Our goal is to be ready and prepared for whatever is...

Recovery Coaches

St. Vincent’s Emergency Department Adds Recovery Coaches

St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport recently became the 21st hospital in Connecticut to incorporate the Emergency Department Recovery Coach (EDRC) program from the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). The program launch at St. Vincent’s  Emergency Department is the result of collaborative efforts between CCAR, the Cigna Foundation, and...

Emergency Department

He’s Offering A New Kind of Addiction Help in Emergency Department

He’s sitting near the hospital bed, his deep, baritone voice quiet as he listens to a tearful patient details his struggles to stay sober. “My man,” William Dantzler said gently, leaning slightly toward the young man whose cheeks glistened with tears. “Live for you.” The moment was brief at the...

US Surgeon General Visit

Here’s the Surgeon General’s Plan to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Calling it “the defining issue of our time,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, invited healthcare providers to return to basics when addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic. In Hartford March 2 as part of a presentation co-sponsored by the Hartford Medical Society and Hartford HealthCare (HHC), Dr. Adams said...