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America loses 100 Americans every 24 hours from suicide

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 12th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

From U.S. military personnel who take drastic measures, to school kids who can longer stand being bullied, suicide has become a pervasive problem in America - and medical officials say it's vital to turn the tide while we still can.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Health officials are spearheading a program that encompasses Facebook and other private companies.

"America loses approximately 100 Americans every 24 hours from suicide," Pamela Hyde, administrator of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says. Among U.S. people between the ages of 18 to 24, suicide is now the third leading cause of death, officials say.

"It's time to turn our attention to prevention." U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin says.
 
A new strategy combines the government, the private sector, schools and communities to help raise suicide awareness, increase prevention efforts and develop new treatments for those at risk.

More than 37,000 Americans took their own lives in 2009, and "more than 500,000 Americans were depressed enough to have actually tried it," Hyde said.

There has been a wave of suicides in the U.S. military. "Right now we are losing more of our soldiers to suicide than we are to combat," Army Secretary John McHugh says.

The majority of military suicides aren't combat related. Fifty-four percent of military personnel who committed suicide in 2010 and 59 percent who attempted suicide that year were never deployed, McHugh said at the press conference.

"What this tells us is we are dealing with broader societal issues," he said, including drug and alcohol abuse, relationship problems and depression.

In July -- alone "the Army lost 38 soldiers to suicide - an all-time and [one-] month high," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services says.

Overall, U.S. suicides declined in the 1990s, but have since begun to rise again, she said.

Sebelius says that $56 million of federal money will help fund suicide-prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. The act was signed into law in memory of the son of Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters and a former U.S. Senator, who took his life nine years ago.

"Our goal is, in the next five years we will save 20,000 human lives," Smith said. "This issue touches nearly every family. It is something we can do something about. It's the work of angels."

Social networking site Facebook is making online crisis help available, Marne Levine, the company's vice president for global public policy, said at the press conference.

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