A national survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the public-private partnership working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, shows that Americans overwhelmingly (94%) believe that suicide can be prevented, and most (94%) would take action to help someone close to them who was thinking about suicide.
While the majority of Americans would encourage a friend or loved one in crisis to seek help from a mental health professional (64%) or doctor or other primary care health professional (53%), many also recognize that reducing the number of people who die by suicide also involves educating the public (59%), improving training for healthcare professionals (57%), and educating community leaders such as teachers and clergy (51%).
“It is promising to know that more than ever before, the American public wants to play a role in suicide prevention and recognizes that mental health is equally important as physical health,” said Bob Gebbia, Chief Executive Officer, AFSP. “In addition to improving suicide related care in our health systems, we must also do more to support people where they live, work, and learn.”
The survey findings also reinforce data released in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show there is no single cause of suicide. According to the Action Alliance/AFSP national survey, the majority of Americans recognize that suicide has many contributing factors, such as: feelings of hopelessness (74%), being bullied (71%), financial issues (69%), relationships problems (64%), and losing a job (58%).
“Family members, friends, coworkers and others, understand they can play a role in being there for someone who might be feeling alone, helpless, and isolated from various factors – whether that be a job loss, a breakup, or the grief of losing a loved one to suicide,” said Bob Turner, Executive Committee Private Sector Co-Chair, Action Alliance, and Senior Vice President (Ret.), Union Pacific Corporation. “For far too long, many people did not feel comfortable openly discussing this complex topic, but today we are at a tipping point in this country. The data show there is a readiness among Americans, like never before, to take part in tackling this issue to save lives in this country.”
Americans overwhelmingly agree they have an important role to play in preventing suicide – and most (78%) are interested in learning how they might be able to play a role in helping someone who may be suicidal – but they indicated they need more information and guidance on how to help. For instance, the majority of Americans (70%) recognize that most people who die by suicide usually show some signs beforehand, but only 31% say they can tell when someone is suicidal. Additionally, only 38% of Americans say they would provide someone who was suicidal with a phone number for a crisis hotline or other resource.
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