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To Barbara Lee, I understand your role, as a member of the U.S House of Representative in California, can be occupied with other duties. However, I do write this to you urging to help increase more awareness and accessibility to suicide prevention. Suicide is an upcoming approach that people do that have several problems in their lives. Worldwide, suicide contributes to premature death, morbidity, lost productivity, and health care costs (Stone et al., 2017). Suicide can be identified as death caused by self-injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2018).
Also, suicide attempt is a non-fatal self-harm and potential doing harm with an intent to die (NIMH, 2018). These approaches not only are a health concern to the population, they are health concerns to the individuals, families, and communities. The ongoing issues have been addressed to the public countless times, providing resources to prevent suicides and hotlines to prevent suicide attempts.
However, the approach should be targeted to decrease the major factors that increase the likelihood of suicide. The ability to access mental health care and work together to reduce suicide death amongst the people will help each person.
Barbara, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA), suicide is on the rise, In 2016, there were 13.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 U.S residents, compared with 12.4 in 2010 and 10.4 in 2000 (APHA, n.d). With an overall average to put in perspective, someone dies by suicide every 11.7 minutes in the United States (APHA, n.d). These numbers are alarming because the public is not seeing the warning signs before it leads to suicide. The overall issue can be slowly resolved if the public is provided with more assistance such as free counseling through insurance, education to parents and families, health educators, doctors, health care providers, housing assistance, mental health assistance, and more.
Although suicide is portrayed as a person doing harm to self, it does not project the possible factors that lead to suicide. Suicide it combined with other acts of violence, which brings me to write this concern and bring light to the overall issue. It has encouraged me to see other possible factors in people’s lives that lead them to act out or think about suicide. APHA provided overall factors that are linked to suicide that I hope will show you that suicide does not come solely from mental health problems.
The APHA provided that suicide can come from income inequality, economic stress, high unemployment, media violence, harmful norms around masculinity and femininity, community violence, poor neighborhoods, family conflict, lack of social support, poor social problem-solving skills, history of violent victimization, mental health conditions or substance use, and low educational achievement (n.d). These are linked to possible suicide attempts and certain demographics are more at risk than others. These factors not only increase their chances of committing suicide, it can lead to possible violence to other people. The possible links are created throughout our lives at birth to what is experienced around us. Biological, psychological, interpersonal, environmental, and social influences are factors that lead them to suicide (Stone et al., 2017). These identified links can be addressed and help the world overcome suicide deaths and attempts.
Barbara, as I continue with identifying the needs in some areas, I hope the overall issue can slowly decrease with your help and many others involved. The identified issues encompass through the five core competencies of public health. The following are identified: behavioral science/health education, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, and health services administration (Goldsteen et al., 2015). These core competencies are factors that should be addressed to provide care to people at risk of suicide or suicide attempts. One of the core disciplines that should be addressed are the economic and financial strain of the community. There have been studies conducted that examined past rends related to suicides. The trends showed that suicide increased by lose of jobs, unemployment, lowered income, medical coverage, food, and housing expenses (Stone et al., 2017).
Any person who endures these changes in their life may experience high amounts of stress. If a person is unable to control that stress, the likelihood of suicide may increase. The support in financial strain and the economic downfall can help individuals and families be helped by targeting the main concerns. The main concern is household financial security and stability in housing during periods of economic stress (Stone et al., 2017). Unemployment benefits, livable wages, medical benefits, and disability insurance help cover the cost of what is needed to have a safer household financial security (Stone et al., 2017). These are possible ways that can be increase to help the population most at risk.
Through the use of public health resources and accessibility, it is very important to decrease the use of harmful areas where people are at risk of suicide. Such areas are in the lower income populations. These available locations such as liquor store, firearms, etc. put individuals at risk and the community. Other examples of harmful uses are suffocation, or jumping from heights (Stone et al., 2017). Also, areas where suicide is most likely to happen, also known as “Suicide Hotspots.” Places like these (bridges, cliffs, balconies, and rooftops, and railway tracks) are environmental factors that can be intervened to decrease possible suicide attempts and suicide deaths. Public health is there to help decrease these numbers. In the ten essential services, there are specific responsibilities that are done to promote health and help the population thrive. For possible resources, one of ten essential services says that they must link people to needed health services and ensure the provisions of health care when others are unavailable (Goldsteen et al., 2015). The essential service identified can be properly used to link thousands of people to help prevent possible attempts in the local community.
Another important services of the ten essentials of public health is education. Goldsteen et al, provided that the practice of public health is to inform, educate, and empower people about health issues (2015). Suicide, being the health issue, can be helped by training teachers, coaches, emergency responders, urgent care providers, and others in the community to be aware or help with referrals. The training can be done is variety of locations to help individuals such as local community locations, schools, colleges, work settings, etc. I currently work for Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC), a state funded program, and the importance of providing education to create healthy changes is impactful. We have the strength, as a person and community, to provide the resources and referral to help the individuals in need. With suicide at an increase, it is our job to recognize the possible signs and report any type of harm, this is known as mandated reporting. It is our job, as an agency and individual, legally required to ensure abuse is observed or suspected such as neglect, or financial, physical, sexual, or other types of abuse. This approach applies to people at risk of suicide. The proper approach to provide basic information and refer a person to beneficial resources will help save many lives.
You understand what it takes to have those to support your actions and the level it takes to move that action into place. Well, for public health agencies, they play a major role to gather information, raise awareness, and evaluate the effectiveness of different policies. It is to their best interest to create possible interventions for positive outcomes. There are various stakeholders involved that we need their help in this situation. Non-governmental and community organizations can be a tool to increase awareness of policies that are currently in place or in the works to be implemented. Mental health problems is something people experience daily. Many are dying because of the risk factors that come with having the problem or the possible factors increasing the habits.
Mental health services need to be more accessible to the people most at risk. Overall, the lack of mental health services contributes to lack of underuse services with mental health problems. Many agencies of public health can help bring together partners and stakeholders to plan, prioritize, and coordinate suicide prevention efforts. Public health agencies are able to provide vast amount of data, which can identify certain patterns in the community or demographics. Each stakeholder are in high position to collect and provide data, implement preventive measures, evaluate programs, and oversee progress for the public. It is to their best interest to continue to identify ways to improve access to timely, affordable, and quality mental health programs for people in need. According to Stone et al, Over 85 million Americans live in areas with an insufficient number of mental health providers (2017). The low numbers of mental health providers are low in areas of urban and rural communities. The public needs more help to provide those services in underseen areas. A possible way to increase the number and distribution of practicing mental health in underserved areas is offering financial incentives through existing state and federal programs (Stone et al ., 2017).
To continue to keep many aware of the issues is up to the local, state, and federal agencies to participate. The people of our local agencies play an important role when it comes to prevention, as well as funding from state and federal programs. The basis of our government is to provide efforts to successfully keep all stakeholders involved. The use of our governments are to recognize findings and implement those finding to create proper policies or programs. According to Schneider (2017), governments have a responsibility of making an organized efforts to protect the health of the population. I do see protective measures to prevent suicide deaths, however, there can be more done at each level to protect many more individuals at risk. The stakeholders involved are using Monitor health status Surveillance systems. It is important to assess the availability of surveillance data and data systems across these levels to identify patterns.
The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) are examples of surveillance systems that give data on deaths from suicide. NVSS collects demographic, geographic, and causes of death. Each system play an important role to provide accurate information the politicians, public health departments, programmers, and kore to create changes. Other important stakeholders that play a role in these issues are educational agencies, government social services, health services agencies, businesses, media, and organizations that are local such as youth-serving organizations, foundations, and other non-governmental organizations. Each stakeholder does make a difference in preventing suicide by impacting the level of policies, rules, or law that can take place. At least with Public health agencies, they can provide awareness and partner up with schools, workplaces, and community organizations to evaluate prevention programs and policies to effectively protect those at risk of suicide.
Barbara, suicide is a serious public health problem. Each of us likely knowns someone who survived a suicide attempts, those who currently live the experience, interacts with suicide, or those with thoughts of suicide on a daily basis. Suicide and suicide attempts are public health issues of social concern. In order to decrease suicide in vulnerable populations, the groups must be intervened the time they experience suicidal behavior at higher than average rates. The people at a higher risk tend to be at lower socio-economic status or who are living with a mental health problem, veterans and active duty military personnel, individuals who are institutionalized, have been victims of violence, homeless, and members of certain racial and ethnic minority groups (Stone et al ., 2017).
If there was some sort of equal coverage to help the individuals, the accessibility will be more available. Equal coverage does not have to be the best coverage as the health insurance plans used, it can used to the most used coverage for mental health use. Also the environmental factors must be stopped at a level of prevention. The suicide hotspots should limit access to prevent jumping, and installing signs and telephones to encourage individuals who are considering suicide to get help. For this to occur, there would need to be vast amount of education and counseling directed towards use of guns and connecting people who are in need such as friends, family or someone at risk, to train volunteer, health educators, or professional staff.
Overall, to continue the efforts to decrease suicide death and suicide attempts are relied off pushing the community towards possible prevention strategies, different approaches to prevent the risk of suicide and give community members a better view on how suicide develops. Many of the existing strategies range from one on one counseling, group therapies, volunteer help, and the populations support that are at higher risk. As more and more evidence is provided through research, stakeholders, and surveys, new and existing programs will then provide stronger policies, programs, and other areas to protect the population.
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