Suicide in the United States

Suicide is a major mental health concern that affects thousands of people each year. It has been referred to as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Many individuals of varying ages and socioeconomic status suffer from severe depression, anxiety, and substance use, among other mental health issues, and some may not see any other means of relief for their emotional pain. Sometimes there are warning signs that an individual may be contemplating suicide, but in many instances there is no warning. The Surgeon General’s 2012 Report (cited below) provides much information on strategies for prevention so families don’t lose daughters, sons, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, and friends. Between 2001 and 2009 an average of 33,000 suicide deaths occurred each year, which means that over the course of eight years more than a quarter of a million loved ones were lost to suicide. Increasing awareness, reducing stigmas, and providing educational resources for people contemplating suicide (and their families) may be helpful in reducing the number of successful suicides each year.

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After reading the Surgeon General’s 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action, consider the questions below. Then submit your responses.

Question 1


Question 2


Question 3


Question 4

Answers will vary. One possibility: Suicide is an overall health concern, not exclusively a mental health issue. It is important for not only mental health professionals to be aware of risk factors and warning signs, but for educational and health care professionals to also be aware of these factors and signs.

Question 5

Answers will vary. One possibility: It is important for primary care personnel to be familiar with and trained in screening interventions in order to (1) identify individuals who may have emotional and behavioral indicators that suggest the individual is at high risk for suicide, and (2) to be able to intervene appropriately.

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