May 2005 MedBytes: Preventing Suicide

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 As you read in this month's Texas Medicine cover story, suicide by physicians is a problem that the Texas Medical Association and other organizations are beginning to address. Several national organizations have dedicated themselves to preventing suicide in all sectors of our society. Here is a sample of what the World Wide Web has to offer on suicide.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the only national nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to funding research, developing prevention initiatives, and offering educational programs and conferences for survivors, mental health professionals, physicians, and the public. It was established in 1987 by leading experts on suicide. The organization sponsored a 2002 workshop that specifically addressed the problem of physician suicide and led to the development of the Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention Project. Information and updates about the project, as well as a brief bibliography of informative materials, suicide FAQs, and educational resources, can be found on the AFSP Web site at

National Institute of Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH),, is one of 27 components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH. NIMH is committed to educating the public about mental disorders and has developed many booklets and fact sheets that provide the latest research-based information on these illnesses.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) supports suicide prevention efforts with the best of science, skills, and practice. Its Web site at  provides access to the SPRC library catalog, a searchable database of the organization's library collections that contains a detailed record for each resource. Resources are selected by a professional librarian from various sources such as published works, peer-reviewed research, curricula, and Web-based resources, and are aimed at promoting suicide prevention efforts, fostering prevention networks, and providing information on the scope of the suicide problem. There is also a link to the latest news briefs regarding suicide.  

American Association of Suicidology
Founded in 1968, the goal of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is to understand and prevent suicide. The organization promotes research, public awareness programs, public education, and training for professionals and volunteers. It also serves as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide. Its Web site,, supplies links to AAS publications, including Newslink , the organization's official quarterly newsletter. There is also a list of suicide support groups throughout the United States, a collection of suicide survivor resources, and additional links of interest.  

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA),, is the nation's leading patient-directed organization focusing on the most prevalent mental illnesses -- depression and bipolar disorder. The organization fosters an understanding about the impact and management of these life-threatening illnesses by providing up-to-date, scientifically based tools and information written in language the general public can understand. DBSA supports research to promote more timely diagnosis, develop more effective and tolerable treatments, and discover a cure. The organization works to ensure that people living with mood disorders are treated equitably. DBSA has a grassroots network of more than 1,000 patient-run support groups across the country. The site provides information on mood disorders, contacts for support groups, lists of resources, and information about upcoming conferences.

On the TMA Web site
The newly redesigned TMA Web site at  offers continuing medical education (CME) courses from the TMA Committee on Physician Health and Rehabilitation. Courses on caring for the caregiver, managing stress and burnout, establishing a peer assistance committee, and intervening for physicians who may be impaired are just a few of the courses that are available. You can earn ethics CME credit for completing them. Log on to the Web site, and then click on "CME" on the left side of the page.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email Erin Prather. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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