U.S. Officals Launch New Strategy to Prevent Suicide

Kerri Zbodula

In Washington D.C., a new nationwide strategy to prevent suicide has been launched. Facebook, mobile apps, and other technologies will be used as part of a community-driven push to report concerns about suicidal individuals before it’s too late.

Today, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. At least one person dies from suicide every 15 minutes. Annually, 33,000 American lives are taken each year due to suicide. Over the past year, more than 8 million adults reported having serious suicide thoughts, 2.5. million made a suicide plan, and 1.1 million reported a suicide attempt.

This effort is the first new plan in more than a decade to address what officials claim is a growing public health issue. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin says, “It takes the entire community to prevent suicides. It’s not just one individual. We can all play a role.”

The new Facebook service allows users to report suicidal comments that they see online from friends. The website then sends the potential victim and e-mail, urging them to call the suicide hotline as well as confidentially chat online with a counselor.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention has a goal of saving 20,000 lives over the next five years. It targets all Americans, and taps Facebook as a tool for reporting someone at risk.

The plan comes with $55 million in federal grants to state and community prevention efforts. Making suicide prevention a part of routine healthcare, and making people aware of the severity of suicide is anticipated to go a long way and save many lives.