P&T
Our
Other
Journal
MediMedia Managed Markets
Managed Care

 

What Can Caregivers Do For the Self-Destructive?

MANAGED CARE June 1997. © MediMedia USA
Editor's Memo

What Can Caregivers Do For the Self-Destructive?

Timothy Kelley
MANAGED CARE June 1997. ©1997 Stezzi Communications

Timothy Kelley

I went last night to my first meeting of an exclusive club. It's a club whose literature offers newcomers an ironic greeting. It tells them: "We're sorry you're here."

I went more out of curiosity than immediate need, for I'd paid my dues a long time ago. The club is Survivors of Suicide, and I paid my dues at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1969, when my mother took an intentional overdose of sleeping pills.

The others' losses, of course, were more recent than my own. My heart ached as I heard, for example, about the 1996 suicides of three persons much younger than my mother had been. But I must admit that one of the survivors present got on my nerves.

I won't identify this individual even by gender, because privacy is one of the foundations of groups like S.O.S. But this person's appearance and conversation, heavy on health problems, made me want to shout: "You should be confronted on the dangerous way you're eating and drinking and failing to exercise!"

I've long feared that society's faddish emphasis on health-promoting behavior could turn into a fascistic "blame-the-sick" morality in things like health insurance. And I was alarmed to feel something like that attitude in myself. If I couldn't resist such thinking at a meeting whose purpose was to mourn (if also to honor anger at) loved ones who had destroyed themselves, how could it be battled in society, where we now know that Nonsmoker A must ultimately help pay medical bills for Smoker B?

Blaming is one thing; trying to help is another. Suicide is the extreme that proves that "intention" in self-destructive acts is no excuse for backing away, whatever the libertarians say. As an editor I can't tell you how to treat any condition graver than the typo. But I can tell what it's like to spend a lifetime wishing you could have intervened. As our cover story (page 23) suggests, you will increasingly be asked to love patients and plan members enough to fight them for their very lives. Sometimes you will lose. And I promise you you won't always know why.

Meetings

Pharmaceutical Pricing and Contracting Conference Philadelphia, PA September 22–23, 2014
Private Health Insurance Exchanges Conference Washington, D.C. October 7–8, 2014
National Healthcare Facility Management Summit Palm Beach, FL October 16–17, 2014
National Healthcare CFO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
National Healthcare CXO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
Innovative Member Engagement Operations For Health Plans Las Vegas, NV October 20–21, 2014
4th Partnering With ACOs Summit Los Angeles, CA October 27–28, 2014
2014 Annual HEDIS® and Star Ratings Symposium Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
PCMH & Shared Savings ACO Leadership Summit Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
World Orphan Drug Congress Europe 2014 Brussels, Belgium November 12–14, 2014
Medicare Risk Adjustment, Revenue Management, & Star Ratings Fort Lauderdale, FL November 12–14, 2014
Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Forum Alexandria, VA November 13–14, 2014
Home Care Leadership Summit Atlanta, GA November 17–18, 2014