Suicide is preventable and is a significant public health issue. In 2013, there were over 41,000 suicides in the United States – an average of 113 each day. Each suicide takes a substantial toll on individuals, families and communities. The medical costs and lost wages associated with suicide are estimated to be $44.6 billion per year. These numbers underestimate the severity of the problem. In the United States, for every one suicide there are 25 attempted suicides. In 2013, over 494,000 people were treated in US emergency departments for self-inflected injuries. In addition, many more people struggle with thoughts of suicide. During 2008–2009, over 8 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year and 2.2 million adults reported having made suicide plans.
The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts and to make nonfatal attempts than men. In the past, suicide was addressed by providing mental health services to people who were already experiencing or showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. While such services are critical, preventing suicide at a national level will require approaches that go beyond mental health issues to address broader family, community, and societal issues.
This session of Grand Rounds discusses the strategies needed to promote broader awareness of suicide and the role that public health can play in identifying factors that reduce the risk of suicide, and in promoting actions and programs that protect people from engaging in suicidal behavior.
Alex Crosby, MD
Chief, Surveillance Branch, Division of Violence Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
“Suicide: An Urgent Public Health Problem”
Eric D. Caine, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Director, Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention
University of Rochester Medical Center
“Implementing Promising Suicide Prevention Approaches While Enhancing the Evidence Base”
Jarrod Hindman, MS
Violence and Suicide Prevention Section Manager, Prevention Services Division
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
“Using Data to Increase Awareness and Prevention of Suicide: Colorado’s Public Health Approach”
Jerry Reed, PhD, MSW
Director, Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Co-Director, Injury Control Research Center for Suicide
Vice President, Education Development Center
“Progress, Partnerships, and Optimism in Preventing Suicide”
John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director , Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director , Public Health Grand Rounds