March 12, 2015

SAMHSA Unveils New Suicide Prevention Mobile App

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) unveiled a free, new mobile app called Suicide Safe to help health care providers assist patients with suicidal ideation and behaviors.

The app was revealed during the 10-year anniversary event celebrating the SAMHSA-sponsored National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that has answered more than 7 million calls since 2005. Leaders in suicide prevention came together in Washington, DC, to commemorate a decade of progress in the field and to support SAMHSA’s pioneering effort.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-34.

“Suicide devastates lives throughout all parts of our nation, but it is a public health issue that is preventable and SAMHSA working to provide people on the front lines with resources they need to save lives,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “Suicide Safe is a major step forward in suicide prevention. The app gives behavioral and primary care providers an essential and modern prevention tool at their fingertips to help address suicide risk with their patients.”

SAMHSA data reveal that in 2013, nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older (18.5 percent) had a mental illness (i.e., “any mental illness,” or AMI) in the past year; 4.2 percent had a serious mental illness (SMI); and 3.9 percent had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.

Despite the fact that almost half of individuals who die by suicide have visited a primary care provider in the month prior to their death, and 20 percent have had contact with mental health services, a surprising number of behavioral and primary health care providers have never received training on how to assess and manage suicidal patients. The Suicide Safe app helps providers integrate suicide prevention strategies into their practice.

During the press conference, Hyde said more research needs to be done into the connection between drug and alcohol use and suicide. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1 in 11 past year illicit drug users had serious thoughts of suicide. CADCA’s Chairman and CEO, Gen. Arthur Dean, serves as a board member for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

SAMHSA’s Suicide Safe app is available for free download on Apple and Android mobile devices.

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