The Line of Defense Against Suicide
The panel discussion focused on the troubling rise in suicide rates in the US and the challenge of combating this health crisis. Experts on the panel highlighted shocking statistical trends, including that suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults between ages 12 to 25, indicating a 40% surge since 2011. The panelists recount various factors driving this trend, such as unequal access to care, stigmas associated with mental health treatment, and structural issues throughout the US healthcare system.
Dr. Shayari Turner, the Chief Health Officer at Crisis Text Line, outlined the issues of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of suicide, emphasizing the lack of mental health screening and early intervention. Seth Feuerstein, a founder of suicide prevention companies, called for a specialized field of "suicidology" to ensure proper training and treatment of suicidal patients, similar to specialized fields in oncology. Nova Brite from the Trevor Project underscored the importance of fighting the systemic prejudices and biases towards mental illnesses and highlighting the impact of politicizing identities, especially for marginalized communities. Lastly, Dr. Myra Altman from Brightline stressed the dire shortage of mental health providers and the need for diversified and culturally competent health practitioners.
Scholars proposed a multipronged approach that involves cultural competency training, stigma reduction, policy changes, and increased funding for mental health programs to help turn the tide on the suicide crisis. Despite the significant challenges ahead, there's a note of optimism with the increased recognition of mental health issues and potential innovative interventions, including leveraging technology and data.