Action Alliance Identifies Three High-Risk Populations for Suicide Prevention Efforts
Task Forces on LGBT Youth, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Military and Veterans
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has added three new task forces to address suicide prevention efforts within high-risk populations: American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN); youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT); and military service members and veterans.
This brings to six the number of task forces formed by the Action Alliance, the public-private partnership forged in September 2010 to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP). The other task forces are Data and Surveillance, Research, and NSSP.
SAMHSA will provide support and technical expertise for the task forces and the Action Alliance, in cooperation with the private sector and other Federal support. All task forces will include leading experts in the field, including researchers and scientists, advocates, and family members.
“I am heartened that we are focusing attention on communities hardest hit by suicide,” said former U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith, co-chair of the Action Alliance. “By shining a light on their struggles I am optimistic we can help them identify solutions and bring hope for a better tomorrow.”
According to Federal data, in the United States, suicide claims more than 34,000 lives annually—the equivalent of 94 suicides per day, or one suicide every 15 minutes.
In the coming months, the Action Alliance will determine how to address suicide risk in other high-risk groups, such as Latina youth, older adults, individuals with disabilities, survivors of suicide attempts and of suicide loss, and working-aged men and women.
For more about the Action Alliance, read SAMHSA News online, September/October 2010, or visit http://www.actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org.
Studies from organizations such as the SAMHSA-funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center report that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are from 1.5 to 7 times more likely to report having attempted suicide than their non-LGBT peers, while transgender youth are believed to have higher rates of suicidal behavior as well.
Co-leading the LGBT Youth Task Force are Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education; and Charles Robbins, Executive Director of the Trevor Project.
For AI/AN youth and young adults age 10 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death and is on the rise.
Jointly leading the American Indians and Alaska Natives Task Force are Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Indian Health Service; Larry Echo Hawk, J.D., Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; and McClellan Hall, M.A., Executive Director, National Indian Youth Leadership Project.
For more information about a SAMHSA grant program that addresses mental health problems among Native youth, see SAMHSA News online, November/December 2010.
As previously reported in SAMHSA News and the national media, research indicates that there are increased suicide rates among veterans, and suicide rates among service members recently reached historic highs within the Army and Marine Corps.
Leading the Military and Veterans Task Force are Jan Kemp, R.N., Ph.D., National Director, Suicide Prevention Program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and Maggie Haynes, Director of Combat Stress for the Wounded Warrior Project.