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Satcher's Recommendations

The following are Surgeon General David Satcher's suicide prevention recommendations, which he first announced Wednesday.

A full and comprehensive report on all facets of mental health is expected by the end of the year, and a comprehensive national suicide strategy is expected in early 2000.

To increase awareness:

  • Get out message that suicide is a public health problem by making statistics and prevention approaches more easily available.
  • Increase money, support and information for suicide prevention, mental illness and substance abuse programs.
  • Try to reduce stigma attached to suicidal behavior and mental disorders.

To enhance intervention:
  • Complete work on wide-reaching National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
  • Help primary care doctors and nurses recognize and treat depression, substance abuse and other mental illnesses. Increase referral to specialty care when appropriate.
  • Eliminate barriers in health insurance for getting treatment, and encourage combination treatment for people with mental disorders and substance abuse problems.
  • Train health, substance abuse and human service professionals on how to spot and treat suicide risks. That includes clergy, teachers, correctional workers and social workers.
  • Develop and implement training programs for family members of people at risk of suicide and for "natural community helpers" such as educators, coaches, hairdressers and religious leaders. Teach people how to recognize and respond to suicide risks.
  • Develop programs in schools to help teens, including crisis intervention and peer support.
  • Use schools and workplaces to help people find needed services and provide support for people who have survived the suicide of someone close to them.
  • Work with news and entertainment media to present balanced portrayals of suicide.

Science and research:
  • Increase research on suicide risk and prevention programs.
  • Formally evaluate suicide prevention programs to determine what works.
  • Establish better ways for government to track suicide.
  • Encourage development of new prevention technologies, including firearm safety measures.

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