Letter: Preventing suicide on Long Island

The suicide rate for middle-aged Americans jumped 28

The suicide rate for middle-aged Americans jumped 28 percent from 1999 to 2010, the Centers for Disease Control said. Among whites, it shot up 40 percent. (Credit: iStock)

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Very quietly, the Office of Mental Health released a report last month, "Suicide as a Never Event in New York State," indicating that among people receiving mental health care in 2012, Long Island had higher rates of suicide than anywhere else in the state. In our region between 2009 and 2012, the rate of completed suicides actually rose by 45 percent. It's an astounding statistic.

Yet with much fanfare, the agency released its plan for Regional Centers of Excellence that for Long Island means the elimination of all inpatient beds at Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center ["Defending Sagamore," News, Aug. 28]. Odd, since the report on suicide explains that people in inpatient services committing suicide have declined by 18 percent, while suicides in outpatient programs have increased by 28 percent. Wouldn't it make sense to keep the inpatient beds open if we want to prevent suicide? Sagamore has not had a suicide in any of its programs for more than 30 years.

The agency says it wants to "right size" the system. The right size for children's inpatient beds on Long Island is not zero. Let's not confuse the "right sizing" of the state budget with the "right sizing" of services for the mentally ill.

Dennis Dubey, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is the former executive director of the Sagamore Children's Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills.

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