This October, FIRM is focusing on Suicide Prevention in its mental health programs. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among Americans of all ages and racial groups—and it is preventable.
In September, the U.S. Surgeon General, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention released the revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The revised strategy emphasizes the role every American can play in protecting their friends, family members, and colleagues from suicide. It also provides guidance for schools, businesses, health systems, clinicians and many other sectors that takes into account nearly a decade of research and other advancements in the field since the last strategy was published.
Key themes of the report are a desire to:
- Foster positive public dialogue; counter shame, prejudice, and silence; and build public support for suicide prevention;
- Address the needs of vulnerable groups, be tailored to the cultural and situational contexts in which they are offered, and seek to eliminate disparities;
- Be coordinated and integrated with existing efforts addressing health and behavioral health and ensure continuity of care;
- Promote changes in systems, policies, and environments that will support and facilitate the prevention of suicide and related problems;
- Bring together public health and behavioral health;
- Promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means among individuals with identified suicide risks;
- Apply the most up-to-date knowledge base for suicide prevention.
Priorities for action, estimated to save 20,000 lives in the next four years, are:
- Integrate suicide prevention into health care reform and encourage the adoption of similar measures in the private sector.
- Transform health care systems to significantly reduce suicide.
- Change the public conversation around suicide and suicide prevention.
- Increase the quality, timeliness, and usefulness of surveillance data regarding suicidal behaviors.