Advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Visit Nashville to Meet with Lawmakers

Nashville, Tennessee (February 11, 2015) – Each year in the United States, suicide claims over 40,000 lives – more than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. On average, one person dies by suicide every 8.5 hours in Tennessee. On Wednesday, February 11, 2015, volunteers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will visit with lawmakers to encourage them to pass the Kenneth & Madge Tullis, MD, Suicide Prevention Training Act of 2015 – which would require certain mental health professionals to regularly complete a training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management.

“Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death for Tennesseans ages 10-65,” said John Madigan, vice president of public policy for AFSP. “While this is a huge problem, suicide is preventable. Unfortunately, the majority of mental health professionals are unprepared to assess and treat suicidal individuals. Only 50% of psychologists, 25% of social workers, and 6% of counselors have training in suicide risk assessment. If we want to prevent this serious loss of life, we need our healthcare professionals to be trained specifically in suicide prevention.”

The Kenneth and Madge Tullis, MD, Suicide Prevention Training Actwould require certain mental health professionals to choose from a model list of evidence-based training programs and would be able to count the hours spent in the training toward meeting applicable continuing education requirements for their profession. With the right tools, mental health professionals can better recognize the warning signs for suicide and take the appropriate steps to protect patients who may be at risk.

Suicide in Tennessee

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 in Tennessee, and the third leading cause of death for people aged 10-14. Suicide cost Tennessee a total of $1,145,767,000 of combined lifetime medical and work loss cost in 2010, or an average of $1,215,023 per suicide death. Over 2.5 times as many people die by suicide in Tennessee annually than by homicide.

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