Suicide Prevention: There is More to Do
By David L. Shern, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Mental Health America
World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10th each year and coincides with National Suicide Prevention Week. These are important observances on an issue that needs to be put on the front burner all year long.
We need to improve education about suicide, disseminate information, decrease stigma and, importantly, raise awareness that suicide is preventable.
Recent stories have reported on the high rates of veteran and teen suicides. And calls to suicide crisis centers have increased sharply in the past year, with about a quarter linked to economic distress.
In the U.S., approximately 30,000 people commit suicide each year. For every person who commits suicide, there are approximately 18 people who attempt it. Millions more people - the family members and close friends of those who die by suicide - are bereaved and affected by suicide each year, with the impact of this loss often lasting for a lifetime.
We know a great deal about the causes of suicide, which include biological, cultural, social and psychological risk factors. About 90 percent of people who completed suicides had a diagnosable mental heath condition or substance use condition.
We also have expanded our knowledge and ability to deploy effective treatments. Early intervention and prevention can be life saving for people who are struggling with a mental health condition. Protective factors such as high self-esteem, social connectedness, problem-solving skills, supportive family and friends are all key to preventing suicide.
That's why it's important to improve access to services and treatment. We also have to continue to fight discrimination and remove the stigma attached to mental health conditions. A mental health condition is real, and there is nothing shameful about having one.
To reduce the toll of suicide, we have to recognize that it is a challenge that must be embraced across many areas of society. It is not simply an issue for the mental health
"system" or for medicine alone. Suicide prevention must be integrated into the broad
spectrum of the community, from health and human service settings to the workplace to faith and worship facilities and other institutions...
We can reduce suicides by educating communities and health and social services professionals to better identify people at risk of suicide, encouraging them to seek help.
Learn more about suicide prevention here.
Published On: September 02, 2009