The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General released on Monday its new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, highlighting the accomplishments and challenges that have appeared over the last decade since the strategy was first drafted in 2001. The revision highlights improvements in scientific and public health research, and reviews some of the latest systems and initiatives set up to further the goal of radically reducing incidents of suicide in the U.S.
“Those who die by suicide are far from your only ones affected by this disaster. Suicide exacts a significant toll on those left behind at the same time. Loved ones, friends, classmates, neighbors, teachers, faith leaders, and colleagues all feel the consequence of those deaths,” writes U.S. surgeon general Regina Benjamin in the just published report. “Reducing the amount of suicides requires the engagement and dedication of people in many sectors in and outside of government, including public health, mental health, medical care, the Armed Forces, business, entertainment, media, and schooling.”
Between 2001 and 2009, a mean of 33,000 suicide deaths occurred each year United States. In 2009, more Americans died than car, and suicide is one of the top five causes of death for adults under age 45 in the U.S. -related accidents, according to the office of the surgeon general.
Two years ago, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, formed the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Task Force, made up of leaders from the public and private sector, which helped to draft the plan. Members of the task force include officials from the Department of Defense, vice president of public policy of Facebook, the National Coalition of Broadcasters, in addition to leaders from veteran advocacy organizations and philanthropic foundations.
In the past few years the government executed several national programs for mental health and and laws have passed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration released its budget in 2011, which allotted $54 million for suicide prevention increase. The budget continues to purchase activities authorized by the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which provides capital to local and national organizations that specifically target youth suicide prevention.
This past year, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. Mental health of veterans is an increasingly pressing issue. That office was established on the heels of the suicide of a young Chinese-American soldier, Danny Chen, who took his life after tolerating intimidation from fellow comrades.
In 2008, Addiction Equity Act and Mental Health Parity signed into law. It needs group health insurance plans offer mental health coverage in the similar amount to that other health states are covered by them.
Now, the government applies 200 telephone operators to manage to national suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) which is also electronically linked to the national veterans crisis hotline. During Monday’s press conference, officials announced plans to hire an additional 100 operators to fulfill their growing demands. Since 1950 suicide rates were lowest in 2000, at 10.44 per 100,000 people. In 2009, those numbers rose to 11.77 per 100,000 individuals.