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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Suicide Prevention Week 2012 - This Is Everyone's Business

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We probably all know someone close to us who has committed suicide. It might be a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child, or a close friend or co-corker. A normal reaction to losing someone to suicide is "why didn't I see the signs?"  This is Suicide Prevention Week 2012.  The Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced an updated national strategy in preventing suicides.  As the Surgeon General stressed in a news conference on September 10th, "preventing suicide is everyone's business."

United States suicide statistics...

The Talk Radio News Service (TRNS) offered this overview of American suicides:
  • Everyday approximately 100 Americans commit suicide, approximately one person every 15 minutes
  • Since 2001 365,000 Americans have died from self-inflicted causes
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 13-24
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates more than 8 million American had serious suicidal thoughts in the past year.

How will this new strategy to prevent suicide play out...

It is felt that many of the 36,000 annual American suicide deaths could be prevented by including suicide prevention as a part of a routine health care and encouraging people to talk frankly about suicide with their family members, schoolmates, workmates, and fellow military members. Even social media platforms like FACEBOOK can and does play a role.

The goal is to save 20,000 lives in the next five years; partial funding for the strategy in the amount of $55 million dollars will come in the form of grants to state, tribal and community prevention efforts. According to a USA TODAY News report:

"Officials pointed to other recent actions by the federal government that might help: Medicare has started covering screening for depression, and under new incentives announced in August, physicians will be rewarded by Medicare and Medicaid for screening depressed patients for suicide risk. Meanwhile, President Obama just signed an executive order hiring 1,600 new mental-health workers in the Department of Veterans Affairs and increasing the workforce of the veterans' crisis line from 200 to 300."
Additionally, the plan asks that all people in businesses, community groups, friends and families to get involved and learn about indicators and learn how to ask the right questions.

What about FACEBOOK...

FACEBOOK started a new program last December that allows users to report suicidal posts and get distress users connected to online counselors. Here is link to the FACEBOOK Safety page.

ABC Good Morning America video "Stories of Hope and Recovery"

If you are having trouble viewing the video you can see it here. Also, you can visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Finally, take some time this week and every day to reach out to those you love and care about...your actions may help save a life.

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