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January 2011



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In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, September 10, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) urges public education about mental illness and suicide.

According to The World Health Organization, nearly one million people around the world die from suicide each year.

“More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder and we currently have a mental health crisis in this country,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick.

“We all need to learn the signs of depression and take talk of suicide seriously,” writes Fitzpatrick in the latest weekly entry of the NAMI blog.

Fitzpatrick quotes novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who survived a suicide attempt in 1984 and once expressed a desire to “go as close to the edge…without going over”- and had experienced depression first-hand.

“Though people may feel there is no one with them on [the] edge, the reality is that many have stood in that same place of hopelessness, and many understanding listeners are available on suicide hotlines, at support groups and among mental health professionals,” Fitzpatrick writes.

– Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death in the United States and the third-leading cause of death in people ages 10-24 years.

– One in four adults, approximately 57.7 million Americans, experiences a mental health disorder in a given year, yet less than one-third of adults receives mental health services.

– Unemployed persons and veterans are at higher risk of suicide. “We need to hold them especially close,” he writes.

– Male veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide compared to civilian peers. For the first time since the Vietnam War, the Army suicide rate has surpassed the civilian rate.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or anyone you know is in suicidal crisis or severe emotional distress.

NAMI’s Emergency Room Resource Toolkit with educational brochures around suicide prevention also is available.




Suicide Prevention Program To Be Tested In High Schools

Article Date: 09 Sep 2010 – 1:00 PDT

With students returning to classes, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers are beginning a large, long-term study of the effectiveness of a unique suicide prevention program in high schools across New York and North Dakota.

The study of the program called Sources of Strength, led by Peter Wyman, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry at the Medical Center, is supported by a five-year, $3-million grant awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Most school-based programs are oriented by a medical model designed to identify students who already are suicidal or highly distresses and refer them to treatment,” Wyman said. “That approach has several limitations. The traditional approach assumes that mental health services are available and acceptable to most teens, which is frequently not the case. The traditional model does not change school culture and teen socialization in ways that prevent new instances of suicidal problems.”

Sources of Strength aims to “strengthen how teens handle depression, stress and other problems by training influential teen ‘peer leaders’ who work to change coping practices in their friendship networks,” he said.

Wyman’s study will include 36 high schools, two-thirds of which will be in New York State. Schools in Chemung, Franklin, Onondaga, Schuyler, Tioga and Wyoming counties already have agreed to participate. As many as 14,000 students will be involved.

“We’re focusing on rural and underserved areas where the traditional suicide prevention models are not a reasonable sole solution,” Wyman said.

Suicide accounts for more deaths among those aged 10 to 24 in the United States than do all natural causes combined. Each year, 5 to 8 percent of adolescents attempt suicide. Up to one-third of these attempts result in an injury requiring medical intervention.

“This study is a real opportunity to determine how influential peer leaders in high school can change the culture of their schools and peer groups and determine whether this intervention leads to a decrease in suicide attempts,” Wyman said.

The New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Initiatives already has backed the program and the study.

“This office is proud to help support the expansion of the evidence-based Sources of Strength project,” said Melanie Puorto, director of the Suicide Prevention Initiatives. “This school-based program promotes resiliency and helps increase positive help-seeking behaviors. This is an important effort to help prevent youth suicide.”

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/200365.php

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