Ground Breaking Study Finds Millions in U.S. at Risk for Suicide

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A federal report states that more than 8 million U.S. adults seriously considered taking their own lives during the past year and more than 2 million adults actually made a suicide plan. Sadly more than1 million Americans have attempted suicide in the past year.

The report which was released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is trying to shine a very important spotlight on the topic which has long been regarded by mental health experts as a complex and pervasive public health problem; suicide.

This study is believed to be the first study of its kind on such a large-scale scientific survey on suicidal thoughts and behaviors among U.S. adults. The report discovered that younger adults were far more likely to consider taking their own lives in the past year than older adults. In fact, 6.7 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds seriously thought suicide was an option this past year as compared with less than 4 percent of 26 to 49 year-olds. In addition, young adults were nearly three times more likely to have seriously considered taking their lives than adults ages 50 and older.

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From a gender perspective the research showed very little difference in the rates of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts between men and women in the past year.

The report, based on 2008 data drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, also noted that among the more than 8 million adults who reported serious thoughts of suicide, most of the 5.8 million did not make a suicide plan or suicide attempt.

“This study offers a far greater understanding of just how pervasive the risk of suicide is in our nation and how many of us are potentially affected by it,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, DDS, MPH. “While there are places that people in crisis can turn to for help, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline…the magnitude of the public health crisis revealed by this study should motivate us as a nation to do everything possible to reach out and help the millions who are at risk, preferably well before they are in immediate danger.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States in 2006, the last year for which data are available. There are more suicides than homicides in our nation.

“Preventing suicide and addressing the health care needs of persons at risk for suicidal behavior require public health information-sharing efforts that not only highlight the fact that effective preventive interventions exist, but also attempt to reduce the stigma associated with mental and emotional problems and mental health treatment,” the researchers wrote.

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