Suicide Prevention Efforts Get Relaunch

By Miller, Naseem S. | Clinical Psychiatry News, October 2012 | Go to article overview
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Suicide Prevention Efforts Get Relaunch


Miller, Naseem S., Clinical Psychiatry News


WASHINGTON--After more than a decade, the nation's suicide prevention strategy has been updated to reflect major advancements in research, practice, and prevention efforts, and for the first time it enlists the social networking site Facebook as part of the nationwide efforts.

"Back in 2001, when the strategy was last offered, if someone asked me for Facebook, I'd start looking for a photo album," said John McHugh, secretary of the Army and cochair of the alliance that helped relaunch the strategy. Friends and family now can report suicidal comments and postings to Facebook.

Despite the advancements, nearly 356,000 Americans have died by their own hands in the last decade, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the nation and the 3rd leading cause of death among young people.

The trend has been especially alarming in the armed forces, according to a statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the Sept. 10 press conference announcing the relaunch.

In July, the Army lost 38 soldiers to suicide, an all-time 1-month high, she said. By late August, 120 suicides for active and non--active duty soldiers had been reported by the Army for 2012. In addition, 67 other deaths were suspected to be suicides.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention lists 13 goals and 60 objectives aimed at reducing the nation's suicide rate over the next decade. Among those goals are availability of timely treatment and support services, and enhancement of clinical and community preventive services. In addition, "greater coodination among the different programs that provide services addressing mental health, substance use, and physical health care will also increase access to care," the report says.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said one focus of the prevention strategy is an increase in training for all physicians and their staff.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently introduced a screening tool for depression, said Pamela Hyde, administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"We're also interested in emergency rooms," where people are brought in after attempting suicide, Ms. Hyde said.

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