Survivor wants doctors, nurses to get training in suicide prevention

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by ELISA HAHN/KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 11:42 PM

Tuesday, suicide prevention advocates will head to Olympia to push for a measure there that will allow healthcare professionals to better recognize and treat patients before they take their own lives.

Enrique Garcia was 24 when he knew something was wrong.

"Felt like I was going insane, felt like I was going crazy,” Garcia said. “At times, I was having suicidal ideations that I felt life wasn't worth living anymore.”

The former UW student sought help at a primary care clinic, where a nurse practitioner prescribed him some pills and sent him home.

"Not once during that appointment did she ever ask me if I was suicidal that day,” said Garcia. “Not once did she ask how I was feeling, if I had any plans for suicide”.

Doctors at other hospitals also failed to see Garcia was a risk to himself.

Finally on a family trip to Mexico, life was more than he could bear.

"My family had to pull me from jumping off a balcony at our house in Mexico,” he remembered. “I was hospitalized in Mexico because of it.”

About a thousand people die by suicide in Washington State every year. Garcia narrowly avoided being part of that statistic after getting the help he needed at Harborview Medical Center, where staff is trained in psychiatric emergency service.

Garcia took his story to Olympia Monday to testify in front of lawmakers, pushing for more health practitioners to get training in suicide assessment.

ESHB 2315 passed overwhelmingly in the House, and now heads to the Senate.

It would require at least six hours of training in suicide assessment and treatment for healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, chiropractors and physical therapists.

"So people don't go through what I had to go through,” said Garcia. “So people don't have to suffer like I did.”

And so other families don't have to see their loved ones suffer, or lose them altogether.

For anyone in crisis, there is a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline. The number is 1 (800) 273-8255.

 

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