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Curbing Suicide Now a National Priority, U.S. Says
Date:9/10/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Hoping to curb the escalating suicide rate in the United States, especially among military personnel and young Americans, health officials are spearheading a program that encompasses Facebook and other private companies.

"America loses approximately 100 Americans every 24 hours from suicide," said Pamela Hyde, administrator of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, at a press conference Monday morning. Among people 18 to 24, suicide is now the third leading cause of death, officials said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said, "It's time to turn our attention to prevention."

The new strategy brings together government, the private sector, schools and communities to raise suicide awareness, increase prevention efforts and develop new treatments for those at risk, she said, speaking at the news conference.

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

This is as critical a public health issue as good drinking water, safe food and infectious-disease prevention, Hyde said.

The military has been hit particularly hard. "Right now we are losing more of our soldiers to suicide than we are to combat," said Army Secretary John McHugh.

Many military suicides aren't combat related, he noted. 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. These include drug and alcohol abuse, relationship problems and depression, he said.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that in July alone "the Army lost 38 soldiers to suicide -- an all
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