Addressing Social Isolation During National Suicide Prevention Month


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According to the CDC, the percentage of Americans aged 18 to 24 who reported seriously considering suicide in the past 30 days has increased significantly to nearly 26%. September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention. With increased social and economic stressors and magnified social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a strong suicide prevention program is more critical than ever.

Centene is committed to increasing suicide awareness and prevention through our Suicide Prevention program. The enterprise-wide program incorporates best practices, trusted partners, and the innovation of our local health plans.

Centene Advanced Behavioral Health's Suicide Prevention program aims to:

  • Establish an enterprise-wide unified suicide prevention culture.
  • Reduce the staggering loss of human life in families and communities.
  • Identify suicide risk through data analytics, screening, and assessment.
  • Treat those at risk with compassion and respect, using evidence-based approaches.
  • Provide comprehensive training to plan staff and physicians to increase competence and confidence in assessing and addressing suicide risk and behavior.
  • Monitor results to continuously improve outcomes.

"Centene understands our members are likely experiencing additional pressures during this time," says Brett Hart, Centene's Chief Behavioral Health Officer. "As an organization dedicated to whole health, we know we must be responsive to the behavioral health needs of those we serve. For this reason, we are developing an enterprise-wide program incorporating best practices, notable partners, and the innovative efforts of our health plans. Our Suicide Prevention program is evidence-based and uses data analytics, provider and member engagement, and staff and provider training to improve, and save, the lives of our members."

Centene's support of suicide prevention also extends to our community partnerships. A five-year national partnership with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) was launched in 2019 to support suicide prevention and postvention outreach. Health Net Federal Services, a subsidiary of Centene, has partnered with TAPS since 2007. TAPS has developed a successful model of care that provides comprehensive, peer-based support and programming to survivors of military suicide loss. Funding from Centene has allowed TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention to continue its world class provisions of support to thousands of grieving suicide loss survivors.

An important aspect of preventing suicide is identifying at-risk individuals and recognizing warning signs. Symptoms of suicidal behavior can include social isolation, increased anxiety, extreme mood swings, expressing hopelessness, increased anger or rage, changes in sleep, or threatening suicide. Support of at-risk individuals may include teaching coping skills, reducing access to lethal means, connecting individuals within their community, and increasing access to behavioral health services.

This Suicide Prevention Month, we encourage our employees, neighbors, and members to check in on at-risk individuals, particularly those experiencing increased isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're concerned about your mental health or the health of a loved one, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for confidential support available 24/7. Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit the NIMH website.