State Mandated Suicide Education

In their infinite wisdom our representatives in the Washington legislature have passed a law (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1424) mandating training in suicide prevention for certain licensed health care professionals. I hope to attend a “stakeholder meeting” open to the public the Department of Health has scheduled to obtain input toward writing the corresponding regulations (rule making). My first ideas follow:

  • I already try to avoid treating patients who want to die. Imagine how a non-psychiatrist physician, a plastic surgeon, for example, might react.
  • I avoid these patients to avoid the role of “suicide cop” that “prevention” implies. 
  • I reject the notion that even a trained professional can control the behavior of a competent adult or that the state should hold us responsible for same.
  • Prevention will almost certainly include counseling significant others about removing firearms and limiting access to other means of killing oneself. Keep it real.
  • Imposing yet another requirement for education about a subject that someone else has decided we need to know about, on top of the already onerous EMR, MOC, ICD-10, AIDS, etc. will make even more of us hate our professions, and probably the mentally ill as well.
  • The fallacy of assuming suicide implies mental illness or depression: Our state’s assisted suicide law requires demonstration of absence of depression.

Other suggestions?

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