U.S. Launches New National Strategy For Suicide Prevention

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CBS/AP) U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin unveiled the country's new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention on Monday. The new guidelines from the Obama administration focus on preventing suicides, especially among military veterans, by methods such as beefing up the nation's crisis hotline to help.

U.S. health officials said nearly 100 people every day commit suicide, and many more attempt it. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. with rates doubling those of lives taken by homicide. The military in particular has seen an alarming increase in suicides this year.

The federal government announced Monday it will boost staff by 50 percent at the national hotline - 1-800-273-TALK - which is open to military and civilians alike. It provided $55.6 million for state and local programs, and highlighted Facebook features that link distressed users to counselors.

According to the report, suicide can affect anyone but certain populations are at increased risk including individuals with mental and substance abuse disorders, individuals in justice and child welfare settings, LGBT individuals, American Indians and Alaska Natives, men in midlife and older men, and members and veterans of the Armed Forces.

The federal government's new campaign will kick off with public service announcements urging people to seek help if they spot signs that someone is suicidal. Signs of suicidal behavior include talking about wanting to die and feeling trapped or hopeless, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, acting anxious or reckless, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing oneself, showing rage or speaking of seeking revenge and displaying extreme mood swings.

The government urges people who notice these signs to not leave the person alone if possible and to ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves - it won't put the idea in their heads. In these cases, it might be best to try to get the person to call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, take him or her to an emergency room or seek help from a professional.

"Preventing suicide is everyone's business," Benjamin said.

A full copy of the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention can be found on the Surgeon General's website.


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