Rural Suicides Follow Medicaid Cuts

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Dave Strong, an assessment and referral coordinator for the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, says the people now most at risk, ironically, are not the most severely ill. "Schizophrenics, once they've been diagnosed and qualified by Medicaid, don't fall out of treatment," he says." They're always able to get services."

Rather, it's people suffering the first onset of their disease who have the hardest time getting treatment. With services reduced, the mildly depressed now have to wait until their condition has reached a crisis stage to before they can get medical attention.

"We wait too long now to get treatment to them," said Garrett. "It's like telling somebody with diabetes that he'll have to wait until he's in a coma." People with mental illness, she says, can and do recover. "There's a 60 to 80 percent chance they will. But it takes time. The meds are very tricky: it's not a case of one-size-fits-all." Given that seven years can pass between diagnosis and getting a successful treatment going, it's important, she says, to start early.

It's important, too, "to remind the people reading this that there is always hope. All that anybody feeling suicidal has to do to get help is call the national hotline number. Dial 800-273-TALK (8255)."

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