View from the Administrator: Preventing Suicide
There's some good news in the field of suicide prevention. For the first time ever, the nation has a prioritized suicide prevention research agenda, which was developed by a task force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The Action Alliance, which SAMHSA is proud to support, is a public/private partnership with more than 200 participating organizations.
The research agenda supports the Action Alliance's overall mission of advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. It identifies research areas that - if carried out as recommended- show the most promise in helping us significantly reduce suicide attempts and deaths within the next five to ten years.
To achieve that aim, the agenda calls for supporting the use of common measures to make it easier to share and combine data across studies, prioritize research with the greatest potential impact, and focus research on the highest-risk organizational settings and populations.
A new Action Alliance fact sheet series addresses one such high-risk group: young people involved in the juvenile justice system. While suicide is a significant public health problem for all young people, youth in residential juvenile justice facilities have almost triple the suicide rate of their peers in the general population.
The fact sheets, developed by another Action Alliance task force, include information, recommendations, and practical tools that mental health and juvenile justice professionals can use to prevent suicide among the youth they serve.
In 2013, SAMHSA's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline answered more than one million calls in a single year for the first time. Since its launch in 2005, the Lifeline has answered more than five million calls. The SAMHSA-funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) provides technical assistance and training, a registry of best practices, organizational support for the Action Alliance, and other prevention resources. SAMHSA's Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention grantees focus on youth and young adults with suicide prevention programs in their campus, state, territorial, and tribal communities.
SAMHSA constantly evaluates its suicide prevention programs to help ensure that we direct resources toward programs with a strong promise of reducing suicidal behaviors. The initial evaluations of SAMHSA’s Crisis Center Follow Up Program, for example, suggest that placing follow-up calls to individuals who have expressed serious suicidal thoughts is an effective strategy for reducing suicide attempts and suicide in the high-risk period after a crisis.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, you can help prevent suicide. To find out more, take a look at the SPRC’s new information sheets, Roles in Suicide Prevention, which are customized for parents, co-workers, faith community leaders, emergency medical services providers, and other groups.
Someone you know may be feeling alone and hopeless right now. Learn what you can do to make a difference in his or her life.