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Suicide is a serious public health problem affecting millions around the globe. In the U.S., suicide rates have been steadily increasing over the past several years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2013, more Americans died by suicide than died in automobile accidents. Additionally, for every person who dies by suicide, more than 30 others will attempt to kill themselves.

Unfortunately, adolescents and teengers are not immune from this devastating problem. According to the CDC in 2013:

  • 17% of high school students reported seriously considering attempting suicide
  • 14% of high school students reported making a suicide plan
  • 8% of high school students reported attempting suicide

Federal, state, and local governments can play a key role in youth suicide prevention. Because of the far-reaching effects of suicide on a community, lawmakers have a vested interest in preventing the problem and recognize the importance of school-based prevention efforts.

In 2001 Surgeon General David Satcher released the first National Strategy for Suicide Prevention–an organized effort to prevent suicide in the United States. Since the National Strategy was released, government agencies at all levels initiated programs to address youth suicide. Some major achievements include the enactment of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, the creation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the establishment of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC).

Since 2001, the National Strategy has been updated and revised and continues to support suicide prevention at a national level. Additionally, many states and local governments are passing legislation to further prevent youth suicide locally. Some states require that teachers be trained in suicide prevention while others require that school-based suicide prevention programs be implemented.

Curious what your state is doing? Visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s website or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website for more information.

No two states address suicide in the same way. Increased mental health awareness, funding, and advocacy is always needed to continue fighting this public health problem. To get more involved where you live, check out this resource from the National Alliance on Mental Illness on public policy and advocacy options where you live.