States Pursue Strategies to Counter Rising Suicide Rate

Data-informed Approaches, Strategic Partnerships and Upstream Prevention Efforts Are Key Levers for States

With suicide rates up about 30 percent over the past two decades, the National Governors Association partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to release a summary of lessons learned on state approaches aimed to help address this concerning trend.

Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States and is one of the drivers of reduced U.S. life expectancy for three consecutive years. Intermountain West and Northwestern states are disproportionately burdened with high suicide rates, especially among middle-aged adults and certain at-risk populations. To support states trying to address these challenges, today NGA Solutions: The Center for Best Practices published State Strategies for Averting Early Deaths: Innovations and Best Practices for Preventing Suicide.

The paper’s findings resulted from a March 2018 convening of 13 states, including many in the Intermountain West beset by higher-than-average suicide rates. It highlights three broad approaches that states can employ to reduce suicide rates: taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach across relevant state agencies; strategically partnering with key stakeholders across systems to complement local efforts including families, health care and social service providers, faith-based communities, schools, senior centers, veteran organizations, and tribal leaders; and shaping policies and programs to address upstream prevention.

“For governors, there is no more urgent task than protecting and preserving human life in their states,” said Hemi Tewarson, director of NGA Health. “We worked with national experts and states to help share strategies to address the alarming trend of suicide in many regions of the country, and we hope the resulting report helps to guide policies and best practices that save lives.”

The full white paper can be viewed here.