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Reducing Suicide Calls for Cross-Sector Collaboration

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) works with more than 250 national partners in reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.

On March 21, the Action Alliance brought together its Executive Committee members – senior leaders of public and private sectors –including Kaiser Permanente, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facebook and other industry leaders to leverage their impact and advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

“We recognize that health systems need to be suicide safe, communities need to be prepared to support those at risk for suicide and those grieving a suicide loss, and media and entertainment depictions of suicide must be safe and accurate,” the Action Alliance reported.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of preventable death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally. However, regardless of age, gender, occupation, race, or ethnicity, suicide can affect anyone; and is recognized as both a mental health and public health issue.

The CDC documented 1,300 suicides in children as young as 5-years-old between 1999 and 2015. And in 2016, they found that 53 children ages 11 and younger took their own lives because of bullying.

Last year, Blue H.E.L.P. (Massachusetts-based nonprofit led by active and retired police officers, medical professionals and victims’ families) reported that 159 American police officers died by suicide. This is the third year, in a row, that police suicides outnumbered all other line-of-duty deaths such as felonious assault, patrol vehicle accidents, heart attack or duty-related illness.

In the New York Times article, In Screening for Suicide Risk, Facebook Takes on Tricky Public Health Role, Natasha Singer reported that “the social network ramp[ed] up their efforts after several people live-streamed their suicides on Facebook Live in early 2017.”

Now, Facebook is gaining traction as the world’s largest suicide threat screening and alert program reaching over two billion monthly active users worldwide as of last December.

In 2017, the $40 billion company integrated real-time suicide prevention tools into Facebook Live including intervention tools to the person streaming the video and the person viewing it. Potentially, it would allow users to report the signs and connect the individual to resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK).

Unfortunately, these resources do not work for everyone and people may continue with public suicide, which is more reason to work collaboratively.

While social media is one platform that can seek to help those struggling, research shows that suicidal thoughts can also be influenced by the media. Hence, the Action Alliance, in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Entertainment Industries Council, releasing the first-ever National Recommendations for Depicting Suicide.

“These recommendations aim to help members of the entertainment industry—content creators, scriptwriters, producers—tell more balanced and authentic stories involving suicide that promote hope and healing,” the Action Alliance reported.

For example, stories of survival can be a powerful tool considering 90 percent of individuals who attempt suicide do not die by suicide.

It is important to note we all have a role in preventing suicide and it starts with providing trusted spaces, like the Center for Total Health, to understand the Myths and Facts About Suicide.

About the Center for Total Health

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

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