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Dana Alonzo: Preventing Suicide at First Risk


Over her many years of clinical work, Dana Alonzo, Ph.D., noticed firsthand the “revolving door syndrome,” where the same patients returned to emergency rooms again and again.

This, she said, was despite advances in medications, and major campaigns that reduced the stigma of seeking help for mental illness.

“We’ve had no effect on the rate of suicide; in fact it’s higher than it ever was,” said Alonzo, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Social Service and director of Fordham’s Suicide Prevention Research Program.

She attributes the rise in part to the main focus of suicide prevention research over the years, which has centered more on desperate patients in the emergency room and less on those initially seeking outpatient services. Also, in much of the mental health research, patients’ sociocultural backgrounds are not taken into account.

“What differentiates social work from other mental health professions, like psychiatry or psychology, is that we look at more than just the individual person sitting in front of us. We look at their ecosystem,” she said. “We need to know the populations if we are hoping to help.”

Read the rest of the story in Inside Fordham.


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