MHANYS Cites Alarming Suicide Data, Urges Action to Respond

NYAPRS Note: Striking data and information from our friends at MHANYS.

Last week, MHANYS participated in the Suicide Prevention Conference held by the New York State Office of Mental Health. We are very appreciative of Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Sullivan in moving the agenda of suicide prevention forward. There were a lot of innovative ideas and discussions that took place. We are providing a brief snapshot. For much more information, I would recommend reading the report and the link to the website. Special thanks to Dr. Jay Carruthers, Director of the OMH Suicide Prevention Office, his staff and the staff of the Suicide Prevention Center of NYS for putting together all this very useful information.

Alarming Statistics: Please look at these numbers. Even for those of us in the field, these numbers are shocking

1.1 million people attempted suicide in 2014

2.7 million people made a suicide plan in 2014

78 percent of older adults who complete suicide saw their health care provider a month before they killed themselves.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15 to 34

It is the tenth leading cause of death nationally

Of the ten leading causes of death, suicide is the only one that has seen a percentage increase in recent years.

Existing Problems in Mental Health Services

Former OMH Commissioner Mike Hogan has been working with Dr. Carruthers and collaborators, including researchers at the NYS Psychiatric Institute, in developing the Zero Suicide initiative in NYS. As Commissioner Hogan pointed out, traditionally there has been limited attention paid to suicide prevention trainings in health care settings. Ironically, Hogan noted the mental health system has historically been designed to deliver mental health services, not to explicitly reduced suicide deaths. The bottom line is that traditional mental health services have not gone a good job of incorporating suicide prevention training into their content areas.

Innovative Solutions

There is strong evidence that there are programs that work. New York State has vested resources in the Zero Suicide Initiative for several clinics throughout the State (information about the program is listed below). Community based programs have also been successful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for suicide prevention, innovative programs in school settings like Sources of Strength, work of peers in suicide prevention and lethal means restrictions have all advanced suicide prevention in New York.

Continued Needs

Many more resources have to be dedicated to suicide prevention. We know that community programs have worked in creating innovative solutions, additional social media engagement is significant and more suicide prevention training is needed in the community as well. We applaud State resources being dedicated to Zero Suicide in clinics, but there should be an expansion of the program to community providers as well. In addition, we have to identify resources to provide more services in correctional settings and for discreet populations that are outliers in suicide attempts. We also need a strong and systemic public awareness campaign as advocated by Dr. John Draper, National Director of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (run through the MHA-NYC).

We also have to utilize the transition to Medicaid Managed Care in behavioral health to be inclusive of financing for suicide prevention training.

Follow Up Advocacy

As a follow up, MHANYS Public Policy Director John Richter will be sending out a piece on the role of mental health education and suicide prevention around issues of bullying. If you are interested in getting more information about mental health education in school, please contact John at .

Please call GovernorCuomo and voice your support for Mental Health Education in Schools which we believe can dramatically help in the area of suicide prevention. Ask him to support Mental Health Education in Schools Bill (A3887B and S6046) at (518) 474-8390, Option 3 Thank you.

Listed below is the State Suicide Prevention Plan and a link to the website.




‘1,700 Too Many’ Plan Sets Goal of Further Reducing New York’s Suicide Rate

ALBANY, NY – The New York State Office of Mental Health today announced the release of an extensive, multifaceted plan for suicide prevention, aimed at reducing New York State’s suicide rate. To guide suicide prevention statewide,1,700 Too Many: New York State’s Suicide Prevention Plan will empower communities, healthcare professionals, and researchers with the tools they need to decrease the number of deaths by suicide.

“New York State is taking action to save the lives of our family, friends, and neighbors from suicide, the most preventable cause of death,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “This plan presents the most extensive suicide prevention framework of any state in the nation, with lofty goals and detailed plans on how to make it happen. By working together under the common cause of suicide prevention, we will honor in the best way possible those whom we have lost to suicide, by letting potentially suicidal individuals know that we care about them and that help is always available.”

1,700 Too Manywas developed after New York State was chosen to receive a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to integrate suicide prevention into healthcare settings and provide prevention specific training to healthcare providers. New York is one of only four states to receive such funding.The plan is the centerpiece of the inauguralNew York State Suicide Prevention Conference occurring today and tomorrow in Albany.

“More and more New Yorkers are receiving their mental health services from primary care providers,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Office Director Dr. Jay Carruthers. “It is of utmost importance that we train our medical professionals to address suicide risk more directly. It’s one of the various components of our plan that will have a significant impact on reducing suicides in New York State.”

“The new state plan shows why New York State remains a leader in suicide prevention. To truly have an impact, no one intervention is enough,” said Suicide Prevention Center of New York Associate Director Garra Lloyd-Lester. “We need a coordinated systematic response, in our health system, in our schools and in our communities. And that’s exactly what the plan calls for.”

1,700 Too Manybrings a three-tiered strategy to suicide prevention.

Integrating Suicide Prevention into Health and Behavioral Health Settings

Many individuals who die by suicide have contact with the health care system just prior to death. Yet, health and behavioral health systems have never been explicitly designed to reduce suicide deaths. The plan will work to change this through the adoption of a systematic approach:The Zero Suicide Model. All healthcare settings – mental health and substance use treatment centers, emergency rooms, primary care practices, hospitals – have an important role to play in reducing suicide deaths among New Yorkers. A core component of the plan relies on improved training for clinicians in the identification and treatment of at-risk individuals. OMH is ramping up training in this area for mental health and substance abuse providers, with plans to expand to other healthcare and social service settings.

Coordinated Community Suicide Prevention

Working together, communities can make a difference and prevent suicides. Research indicates that individuals who feel disconnected from others are at increased risk for suicide. The second strategy of the plan works to help at-risk individuals foster connections, encouraging them to remain integrated within their communities, throughout their lives. It calls for increasing efforts to intervene at the earliest signs of trouble,beforean individual becomes suicidal. Research suggests that the promotion of mental wellness and supportive social connections can leave individuals less vulnerable to suicide, including those with little-to-no contact with health and behavioral healthcare systems. The plan also continues New York’s efforts to train the public in suicide prevention as well as develop, support and strengthen community suicide prevention coalitions and create ‘suicide safer’ school communities.

Data-Informed Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a complex problem. The third overarching strategy of the plan makes an ongoing commitment to collect better data in order to continuously inform the State’s suicide prevention efforts. New York State is fortunate to have a number of resources that contain information relevant to suicide surveillance. This plan explicitly calls for leveraging existing data and developing novels ways to make the latest information more accessible to end users, such as policy makers, providers, and communities working towards suicide prevention. To that end, OMH is working more closely with other state agencies to make better use of new and existing suicide data.

Read the entire ‘1,700 Too Many’: New York State's Suicide Prevention Plan, here: