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First Revision to National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Since 2001 Unveiled

For the first time in more than a decade, a revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) has been released. The new guidelines were unveiled at a ceremony Monday in Washington, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day.

Attending the event were U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

The revised NSSP contains 13 goals, totaling 60 suicide prevention objectives, including new data on vulnerable groups and suggested changes to better integrate and coordinate efforts between health and behavioral health officials. A joint effort by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, the revised NSSP is anchored around four strategic areas—creating supportive environments for families and individuals, enhancing community and clinical prevention services, promoting access to timely support and treatment, and improving overall suicide prevention evaluation and surveillance.

Recently, Sebelius announced that more than $55 million in new national, state and community grants have been authorized for suicide prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. It was also announced that Facebook, one of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s private sector partners, would be integrating a new service that allows users to report comments or postings containing suicidal content and connect with crisis management specialists.

Key findings from the NSSP reveal that suicide is now the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 33,000 Americans dying annually from self-inflicted injuries. More than a million adults attempted suicide in 2011, with 7.8 percent of the nation’s high school students making suicide attempts last year. 

“The latest research shows that suicide is preventable, suicidal behaviors are treatable, and the support of families, friends, and colleagues are critical protective factors,” said Dr. Benjamin at the official unveiling ceremony. “Suicide prevention needs to be addressed in the comprehensive, coordinated way outlined in the national strategy.”

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