Friday, September 20, 2013

Substance abuse prevention is suicide prevention

Earlier this year, I blogged about how preventing youth substance abuse is also about preventing academic failure.  We can say the same for preventing suicide.  Here are excerpts from a recent White House blog post:

When we prevent or successfully treat substance abuse, we prevent suicides.

. . . In 2010, U.S. emergency departments treated 202,000 suicide attempts in which prescription drugs were used as the means, 33,000 of which were narcotic pain relievers

. . . Many of the factors that increase the risk for substance abuse . . . also increase the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and substance abuse, like mental health problems, is linked with a several-fold increase in suicide risk.

. . . There is hope, however: Prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible. Life skills that support effective problem-solving and emotional regulation, connections with positive friends and family members, and social support can protect individuals from both substance abuse and suicide.

In September 2012, a newly revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) was released by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the Office of the Surgeon General.  . . . The connection between suicide prevention and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse is either implicit or explicit in each of the 13 goals of the NSSP, as it should be.  Recognizing this, the NSSP calls for several actions, including: 
  • Work with individuals, families and other social groups, and communities to reduce access to drugs, especially access to lethal quantities of drugs among individuals at increased risk for suicide.  This includes reducing stocks of medications kept in the home, locking up commonly abused medications, and encouraging the proper disposal of unused and unneeded prescription drugs . . .

 Let us commit to stronger collaboration between substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts at all levels: community, state, tribal, and national. And let’s take action. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

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