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Psychiatrist to discuss youth suicide crisis, how to intervene :

September 25, 2019

Editor's note:The 2019AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Oct. 25-29 in New Orleans.

The loss of physician colleagues to suicide put Christine Moutier, M.D., on a path to working in the national arena of suicide prevention.

As a psychiatrist and dean at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, she helped lead efforts to prevent suicide in physicians and trainees. Now, she is chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit organization that funds research, trains clinicians, educates the public and supports those affected by suicide.

Dr. Moutier will give a plenary address titled “The Public Health Crisis of Youth Suicide” (P5072) from 11:15-11:35 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 in the Great Hall of the convention center.

“The top line sort of interesting part of what I’m going to talk about,” she said, “is how do we make sense of the fact that culture is changing in a positive way with stigma going down and mental health being a more open topic, how do we reconcile that with suicide rates going up right now?”

In addition to reviewing suicide rates among youths and national mental health trends, Dr. Moutier will discuss a model that synthesizes the research to explain what drives suicide risk.

“What science is showing very clearly is that for any instance of a suicide death, there’s never one cause,” she said. “It’s always multiple risk factors that lay on top of one another…. Sometimes, there’s a precipitating event laid on top of that whole host of risk factors that have been brewing and escalating themselves, but those are oftentimes invisible to the people around them.”

Finally, Dr. Moutier will offer clinical pearls for pediatricians, who she said can play a key role not only in identifying young people who are at risk but also implementing evidence-based interventions.

“I want to balance that hopefully motivational message so as not to overwhelm them or cause any guilt if they’ve already lost patients to suicide — to just remind them that the science has been rapidly growing and emerging with new findings, new clinical strategies and interventions, so that now is the time,” Dr. Moutier said. “It’s not a matter of looking back and feeling badly about what we weren’t doing before.”

If you or a patient is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more coverage of the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition, visit

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