AUSTIN, Texas — A federal task force investigating suicide rates has issued new recommendations for states and localities that implement suicide prevention efforts.
The task force’s findings, released Monday, include recommendations for how to better serve youth and provide more support for families who have a parent or guardian who is struggling with a suicide.
They also highlight the importance of educating youth about suicide prevention.
A total of 2,839 people died by suicide in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report recommends that states implement programs to:1.
Establish support groups for youth that are tailored to their needs2.
Provide psychological health services to youth who have mental health challenges3.
Work with schools and other youth organizations to develop safe, supportive and positive peer and family support systems4.
Develop a national suicide prevention strategy that includes youth, families, educators, health care providers and law enforcement5.
Offer more support to youth in crisis and the communities they live in6.
Increase the availability of mental health resources and services7.
Establishes programs to prevent the death of a youth by suicide8.
Estimate the cost of suicide prevention to local governments and other state and local agencies.
The recommendations are based on a national survey of suicide survivors conducted by the CDC and are not the result of any specific state or local initiative.
The survey included more than 7,000 people, of whom 2,600 were in high school or older and 1,600 in high-school.
“There are so many other things we need to do,” said state Sen. David Simpson, R-Dallas.
“If we don’t have these programs, we are going to lose our young people.”
Simpson, the ranking Republican on the Senate panel that will consider the recommendations, said he believes the recommendations are necessary and appropriate.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to ensure that these programs are effective,” he said.
He also said it’s important for states to ensure they have a suicide prevention plan in place before taking steps to implement them.
“I think we’re going to need to be careful in this area because I think there are some people that are going see it as a way to get away from them and to get some type of help,” Simpson said.
“I think it’s a good idea, but we’re not going to get there until we actually get the answers that we need.”
The report also recommended that states focus on supporting families, including by providing additional support to families who already have one parent who has a mental health problem.
It also recommended increased funding for suicide prevention and mental health programs in schools and the community.
The states and their elected leaders also must work to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
They must also work with youth to better understand their symptoms, identify resources for treatment, and develop strategies to prevent suicide.
The federal task forces report, which was written by experts from the Centers For Disease Control, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, recommends that all states, including those that did not provide youth suicide prevention programs, make suicide prevention a top priority.
“It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our young lives,” said Scott Smith, chief deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Justice.
“We can do it better than the parents, and we can do better than our schools.”
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