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Suicide prevention program sees positive results, expands as demand grows

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Ryan Delaney
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WRVO News File Photo

As central New York deals with a higher than average suicide rate, a prevention program is providing hope for the future. The Psychiatry High Risk Program at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse focuses on youth and young adults at high risk for suicide, and has started out with extraordinary results.

"In the first three months on average, we have significant decreases in depression and anxiety," said Dr. Robert Gregory, program director of the Psychiatry High Risk program. "Our clients have a 50 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, two-thirds improvement in self-harm and suicide attempts, 50-percent decrease in alcohol and drug use, 90-percent decrease in hospital stays.”

Because of the success, the program has expanded, adding three additional caregivers and three insurers to meet increased demand. Gregory said the therapy involves 12 months of intensive treatment for teens and young adults who struggle with suicidal thoughts and often require hospitalization.

"We’re working toward recovery. This isn’t just hand holding that we do for 20 years," said Gregory. "This treatment is hard work and our clients describe it as really hard work. And my experience is, if it isn’t difficult, it's not going to be helpful in the long run.”

70 patients have enrolled in the program since it started a year and a half ago.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.