Nearly half of patients keep suicidal thoughts, abuse, secret from doctors

Up to half of patients don't tell their doctors information that might put their lives in peril - like suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, depression and sexual abuse, a new study finds. 

Healthcare professionals are one of the few first-hand connections an average person might have to mental health resources or ways out of dangerous homes. 

But many patients still feel ashamed of these problems or suspicious that doctors will judge them or put this personal information in their medical records, according to a new University of Utah and Middlesex Community College study. 

Not only does withholding this information deprive patients of access to valuable resources, these struggles raise a person's risks for all manner of other health problems like high blood pressure and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

Nearly half of patients that have faced depression, suicidal thoughts, sexual or domestic abuse kept these life-threatening issues secret from their health care providers, a study found (file)

Nearly half of patients that have faced depression, suicidal thoughts, sexual or domestic abuse kept these life-threatening issues secret from their health care providers, a study found (file)

So-called deaths of despair - those that result from drinking, drug use, and suicide - are a top-priority public health problem in the US. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 34, and 85 percent of women murdered in the US each year are killed by current or former boyfriends husbands or other romantic partners.

There issues are clearly life-threatening. 

The distress in people's home and professional lives is no longer seen as separate from, but rather a significant risk factor for their health and well-being. 

Despite campaigns to encourage people to be aware of their mental health and to seek help when they need it, stigma still lingers. 

And its effects are perhaps most problematic in a health care setting. 

Doctors are typically required to take at least some psychiatric training and have better access to resources like crisis intervention groups and shelters than your friends or family might. 

Previous research has found that people are reluctant to admit bad habits like drinking, smoking or slacking on physical activity, to their doctors out of shame or fear of judgement and lectures. 

The same team of researchers that conducted the new study found that

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