Sep 11, 2023

This is Suicide Prevention Week.


1) More than 48,000 Americans died by suicide in 2021.
Two smiling teens drive a car. A red video play button is overlaid on the center of the image.
"We don't talk about suicide. We don't talk about mental health enough," Dr. Dionne Hart of Hennepin Healthcare in Minnesota says in this video from Pew. And she's right.

When we talk about suicide—in health care settings, among friends and family, and within our communities—we can help reduce the barriers that prevent people from seeking care. People like Greg Whitesell.

When this high schooler on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation experienced suicidal thoughts, friends and family came together to keep him safe. Hear his story and get insights on the science behind depression and suicide risk.
Watch Greg's story
2) Suicide disproportionately affects certain groups
Illustration of a doctor's clipboard.
From 2000 to 2020, the suicide rate grew 30% among Americans overall. The trend was even more stark for certain groups.

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people saw the biggest spike. The suicide rate among AI/AN women grew 135%, and the rate for men rose 92%.
See infographic
"If you use universal screening [in health care settings], regardless of why the patient is there, you will increase detection for suicide risk."
Edwin Boudreaux, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
A few quick questions could save lives

3) Health providers are key to detecting suicide risk.
A Medical Intensive Care Unit manager discusses upcoming staffing with registered nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Nearly half of people in the U.S. who die by suicide interact with the health care system in the month before their deaths, research shows. Each interaction is a chance for providers to identify people at risk and connect them to care.

A new partnership between the Zero Suicide Institute and Pew aims to show how hospitals and health care systems can improve and expand suicide care to help save lives.

As one participant in the program noted: "Everyone has a role in suicide awareness and prevention. One person or agency cannot win this battle alone."
New initiative aims to boost prevention efforts
4) The U.S. veteran suicide rate was 57% higher than the nonveteran rate in 2020.
Young army soldier talking with doctor during his therapy.
A multitude of factors contribute to suicide risk among veterans, from post-traumatic stress disorder to barriers to accessing care.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says that preventing suicide is its top clinical priority and includes universal suicide risk screening in its prevention initiatives.
How the VA is working to improve veteran care
5) America's youth are increasingly considering suicide.
Students walk down a hallway in their school.
Twenty-two percent of high schoolers said in a 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey that they had seriously considered suicide within the past year—up from 16% in 2011.

To help identify youth at risk of suicide before it's too late, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatric health providers screen everyone ages 12 and older for suicide risk at least once a year.

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