In February, a VA report said that in 2010 about 22 veterans committed suicide each day, at rates higher than the general population and higher still among women vets. That was based on 27,062 suicides by those with U.S. military service among 147,763 suicides total in 21 states.
The VA's National Center for PTSD said experts think that 11 to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — the number clicks up to 30 percent among Vietnam veterans — will experience that disorder.
The New York State Psychiatric Association, representing more than 4,000 practicing psychiatrists, said confidentiality is a core guiding principal in medicine, particularly in psychiatry, where patients' disclosure of thoughts and feelings, including anger, hostility and resentment, is often essential to treatment.
According to the association, psychiatrists already have a duty to notify police when they conclude a patient presents "an imminent risk of harm to self or others," but the new law contains no such time distinction. Richard Gallo, the group's lobbyist, said "imminent risk" occurs when a patient reaches "a crisis stage," and the association has proposed an amendment to say that.
Cuomo said Monday, "The law says it's totally up to the health provider if they come forward or not; it's totally up to them."
However, the statute says mental health professionals, absent laws to the contrary, "shall be required to report, as soon as practicable," the names of patients who, in their judgment, are "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others." There is an exception when physicians, psychologists, clinical social workers or registered nurses believe reporting will endanger them or increase the danger to potential victims.
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