The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Suicide Rate is Up 3.7 Percent According to Most Recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention Data (Year 2017)

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Suicide Rate is Up 3.7 Percent According to Most Recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention Data (Year 2017)

Massive Public Health Initiative Needed to Lower the Suicide Rate, Claims Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization

NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 29, 2018) – Today, the CDC released three mortality reports including the most recent data related to suicide in the U.S. for the year 2017. According to the new CDC data, suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death and the rate of suicide in 2017 increased by 3.7 percent. In 2016, the last year the CDC released mortality data, there were 44,965 suicide deaths; in 2017 there were 47,173: an increase of 2,208 additional deaths.

Dr. Christine Moutier, the Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released the following statement about the new CDC data:

“This increase in the suicide rate is extremely discouraging. Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States. We must address suicide as a public health issue, as we do with other leading causes of death such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Suicide is preventable. As a nation, we must take action by making a major investment in suicide research, translating that research into treatment and early interventions for mental health, and further educating the public on the warning signs of suicide.

At AFSP, we are dedicated to reversing this rising trend in suicide mortality, and we need others to join us in this national effort. As the nation’s largest private funder of suicide prevention research, we know through concentrated efforts that have been shown to reduce risk, successful outcomes are possible. We have developed and invested in Project 2025, a high-impact, collaborative initiative, aimed at the organization’s bold goal of reducing the nation’s annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Based on the evidence, AFSP has identified four critical areas to help reach this unprecedented goal, including: (1) firearms and suicide prevention, (2) large healthcare systems, (3) emergency departments, and (4) corrections systems. Project 2025, will span across all demographic and key higher risk groups to save thousands of lives within the next decade. Learn more about Project 2025.

There are five main reasons the rate is rising, and until we address these, we won’t see a reduction in the suicide rate:

  1. Cultural attitudes about help seeking need to improve, as does our ability to have caring, informed conversations to proactively optimize resilience and mental health. (In vast majority of cases, research shows that 90 percent of the time when someone dies by suicide, they have a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.)
  2. People must be able to access affordable, comprehensive health care, including mental health care that specifically addresses suicide prevention.
  3. Training for primary care physicians and other providers in how to better screen for mental health and suicide risk; and mental health clinicians in how to detect risk and provide lifesaving treatment.
  4. We must reduce access to lethal means at a population level – specifically, reducing access to lethal means such as firearms and toxic substances by those at risk, which has been proven to reduce suicide rates.
  5. We need more accurate data collection of suicides and suicide attempts. This past year the National Violent Death Reporting System was expanded to all 50 states, which was the next critical step in gathering accurate national information about suicide.

As a nation, we need to significantly increase our investment in the science, education and advocacy in order to expand effective suicide prevention efforts. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.”

For guidelines on how to report safely on suicide: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/for-journalists/.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

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