APA Reacts to Increase in Suicide Rates, Calls for Access to Mental Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that suicide rates have increased in almost every state from 1999-2016. CDC researchers found that more than half of the people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S.

"Suicide is a critical issue for all of us who work in health care," said American Psychiatric Association (APA) President Altha Stewart, M.D. "The CDC's report highlights the need for access to mental health care. We know from other research that most people who die by suicide have mental health conditions, though they may not have been formally diagnosed or treated. People should know that suicide is preventable. Anyone contemplating suicide should know that help is available, and that there is no shame in seeking care for your mental health."

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours/7 days a week. For those seeking help, please call 1-800-273-8255.

"Today's report on suicide reinforces the need to fund and enforce laws ensuring access to mental health services," said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "Congress has recently passed laws aimed at expanding the psychiatric workforce in the United States and requiring that insurance companies provide equal coverage for mental health as physical health, such as diabetes and heart disease, but implementation and enforcement of these laws are needed. Early identification of mental illness is essential, and we are ready to work with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that Americans can receive treatment when needed."

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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