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New CDC Vital Signs Report Shows Importance of Help Seeking

7 Jun 2018 — 3 min read

BY AFSP

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Finding Purpose in Light of This Week's News

NEW YORK (JUNE 7, 2018) – Today the CDC released a report on suicide, the Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates — United States, 1999–2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide — 27 States, 2015. According to these data, suicide is still the 10th leading cause of death and the rate of suicide since 1999 has increased 28 percent (age adjusted rate). Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization released this statement about the report:

“We commend the CDC for focusing on this critically important public health crisis. Suicide is complex, but science is making it clear that suicide, a leading yet preventable cause of premature death, is ultimately a health-related outcome.

We must invest in the science to answer the key questions about suicide and its prevention and the ways in which we track it. Fully funding the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) will allow for improvements in the death reporting system so we will be able to learn more about suicide and survey the problem with greater accuracy and timeliness – both critical to preventing suicide. This investment approach has worked to reduce other leading causes of death, and will work for suicide as well.

The CDC report focuses on a study of state trends, using the most current death reporting systems in place. We understand that 54 percent of the people who died by suicide were not known to have a mental health condition in this study.  This highlights the under recognition of mental health conditions and the great need to address undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems. A body of research using psychological autopsy method does show that 9 out of 10 people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health condition, often times unrecognized, at the time of their death.*

There is need for greater mental health literacy among the public. One in four Americans have a mental health condition, but less than half get diagnosed or treated. Far too many people are untreated or undertreated for their mental health. We want people to address mental health in the same way they do their physical health. Everyone deserves access to quality health care.

Because suicide has multiple contributing factors, we must invest in comprehensive community and clinical approaches, and in a state-mandated national death reporting system. Our nation depends on it.”

For safe reporting: https://afsp.org/for-journalists.

*Reference:  Cavanaugh, J.T., et al., Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review. Psychological Medicine, 2003. 33(3): p. 11.

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, aobrien@afsp.org

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