August 15, 2018
Despite a wealth of suicide prevention training available to health care professionals, only the state of Washington requires pharmacists to complete suicide prevention training, according to a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sixteen suicide prevention training resources, and five developed specifically for pharmacists, were identified in the study, which was led by Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. The study was published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
Suicide rates have increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
Pharmacists may be more likely to encounter individuals at risk of suicide today than they were in the past. More than 125 prescription drugs, including 45 of the 200 most commonly sold medications, have been flagged by the FDA for potentially causing suicidal thoughts or actions, and the rate of suicides involving opioid use has doubled in the last 20 years.
“Pharmacists are some of the most accessible health care providers in the nation,” Carpenter said. “Given that pharmacists have experience in counseling, they may be a readily accessible and underused resource in suicide prevention efforts.”
The extent to which pharmacists are aware of and use suicide prevention resources is not known because the vast majority are not required to complete suicide-prevention training. However, pharmacists are well positioned in communities to potentially identify and refer at-risk individuals to appropriate resources, Carpenter said.
“Even though only one state requires pharmacists to obtain training on suicide prevention, there are several fairly comprehensive resources available to educate pharmacists and student pharmacists about suicide prevention,” she said.
In addition to Carpenter, who is an assistant professor in the School’s Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, the study was authored by
- Jill Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., St. John Fisher College;
- Courtney Roberts, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy;
- Jessica Zacher, Pharm.D., University of Illinois-Chicago College of Pharmacy; and
- Evan Colmenares, Pharm.D., UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Carpenter dedicated this study to the memory of Michael Nam, who was a Doctor of Pharmacy student in the Class of 2019 at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
Find the Article