RD659 - Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Annual Report on Activities Related to Suicide Prevention – December 1, 2019

Executive Summary:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. Suicide, by definition, is fatal. Suicide also affects the health of others and the community. When people die by suicide, their family and friends often experience shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Many people are impacted by knowing someone who dies by suicide or by personally experiencing suicidal thoughts. Additionally, being a survivor or someone with lived experience increases one’s risk of suicide.

A report, released by CDC in November 2018, stated since 2008, suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States. From 1999 through 2017, the age-adjusted suicide rate increased 33% from 10.5 to 14.0 per 100,000. The average annual percentage increase in rates accelerated from approximately 1% per year from 1999 through 2006 to 2% per year from 2006 through 2017.(*1) While the causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is to reduce factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience (i.e. protective factors). Ideally, prevention addresses all levels of influence: individual, relationship, community, and societal. Effective prevention strategies are needed to promote awareness of suicide and encourage a commitment to social change.

A comprehensive evidence-based public health approach to prevent suicide addresses risk before it occurs, identifies and supports persons at risk, prevents reattempts, and helps friends and family members in the aftermath of a suicide is needed. This report provides an overview of the Department's activities related to suicide prevention across the lifespan.

The goal of DBHDS is to continue to address suicide prevention across the lifespan on a statewide level and in congruence with our state plan, “Suicide Prevention across the Lifespan Plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia." A combination of interventions at several levels will be required in order to implement an effective, comprehensive program. We will continue to strengthen capacity across multiple agencies and organizations to impact our ability to reduce the risk of suicide across the lifespan.
(*1) Hedegaard, H., Curtin, S., & Warner, M. (n.d.). Products - Data Briefs - Number 330 - September 2018. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db330.htm.