NAMI Lauds Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent Suicide

Laurie Flynn, Executive Director National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

Jul 28 1999

Today we enthusiastically applaud the announcement of the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide. Surgeon General David Satcher has demonstrated great leadership in recognizing suicide as a major public health problem and in initiating a national dialogue to identify real solutions.

We also thank Tipper Gore for her dedicated support of this important initiative and for her tremendous courage and commitment to ending the stigma and discrimination experienced by the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Any individual or family personally affected by severe mental illness knows only too well the very real risk of suicide. In fact, up to 90 percent of all persons who take their own lives suffer from a treatable severe mental illness. More than 10 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and more than 15 percent of those with major mood disorders commit suicide.

Other suicide statistics are equally staggering: more than 29,000 Americans commit suicide annually and suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among our youth, ages 15 through 24, a rate that has nearly tripled during the past 40 years.

In a country where every 45 seconds another person attempts suicide, more and more families are dealing with the devastation of this most painful and tragic act. While we do not always understand why some choose suicide, many of these senseless deaths could be prevented with better screening and referral tools, with better access to effective treatments, and with direction of vigorous public education to those affected by suicidal behavior, and to those who are in a position to intervene and help.

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide reflects the consensus best practices of what is currently scientifically known in suicide prevention. NAMI supports this Call to Action and salutes Tipper Gore, Dr. Satcher, and the millions of suicide survivors who have courageously dedicated themselves to supporting those affected by suicide and to educating the public about the warning signs that, if ignored, may lead to tragic results.