A message from Richard Feldman, Diamond Healthcare's President and CEO
The death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill on August 1 was heartbreaking. Memories of “Camelot,” of her cousin Patrick speaking at Diamond’s national conference in May, or the photos of a 22 year old with seemingly unbound promise, made this news particularly sad.
On that same day, August 1, approximately 320 other people in the US died by suicide or overdose. Besides Saoirse, I am not aware that anyone was from a well-known family. Perhaps there was mention in a local paper or police report. The families of these 320 held out hope and promise for their children, as we all do.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. We have a unique and important mission at Diamond: to provide the highest quality behavioral healthcare services to people in need. That need spans all demographic categories, such as race, gender, age, or household income. With 100% certainty, each of us knows someone – a friend, family member or colleague – who is challenged by a mental illness and/or addiction. We also know the statistics with regard to prevalence, and why funding for research into matters of the brain lag behind that for cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
As if we need any more reminders of the importance of our work, the 321 deaths on August 1, and every day since, are clear signs that the mission of Diamond Healthcare is as urgent as ever. We must continue to focus our energy and resources on improving access to care at all levels. And we must do so by destigmatizing the need for mental health and addiction treatment before one more person makes an irreversible choice. It is, as Patrick Kennedy said at our conference, “the struggle and fight of our generation.”