In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is promoting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline’s mission is to provide immediate assistance to individuals in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service provider through a toll-free telephone number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is the only national suicide prevention and intervention telephone resource funded by the Federal Government.
The Lifeline and its website www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, launched in December 2004, link to a network of local crisis centers located in communities across the country that are committed to suicide prevention. Callers to the hotline will receive suicide prevention counseling from trained staff at the closest certified crisis center in the network. The new materials available on the web will assist local crisis centers in their efforts to reach out to the media to raise awareness about suicide and the national hotline.
In response to Hurricane Katrina, SAMHSA has activated its disaster response plan for the Lifeline to ensure all calls are answered. The information on the Lifeline is being distributed in the impacted areas through established national, state and local networks to help make the number widely available and accessible to those in need.
900,000 Youth Planned Suicides During Major Depression
On September 9, 2005, SAMHSA today released data showing that approximately 900,000 youth had made a plan to commit suicide during their worst or most recent episode of major depression, and 712,000 attempted suicide during such an episode of depression. The new data contained in a special report on youth ages 12-17.
The special report, “Suicidal Thoughts among Youths Aged 12-17 with Major Depressive Episode” found that over 7 percent of youth ages 12-17, 1.8 million youth, had thought about killing themselves during their worst or most recent episode of major depression.
According to the report, about 3.5 million youth ages 12-17, 14 percent, had experienced at least one episode of major depression in their lifetimes. Almost 20 percent of females in this age group and 8.5 percent of males had at least one of these depressive episodes. Rates of major depressive episodes in their lifetimes were similar among racial and ethnic groups and increased with age.
The report is available on the web at www.oas.samhsa.gov.