To the extent that we know what works, suicide prevention efforts face legislative and funding limitations. Singer pointed to research on “comprehensive community-based suicide prevention,” including support for community “gatekeepers,” which was shown to reduce teen suicide rates, in particular in rural communities. But rates crept back up when the program was defunded. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has called for expanded suicide assessment and intervention training for medical professionals, which was required by just nine states as of 2018.
But the bigger problem is that there is a great deal that we do not know about preventing suicide. Andrews said that there is a lack of consensus around what works best, or even what works at all.
“One of the reasons that we don’t understand it really well is that understanding, the research, the amount of time and effort we put into understanding changes in the suicide rate, is abysmal,” he said.
Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the AFSP, made a similar call for more funding, both for suicide research and suicide prevention.
“Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state, and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States,” she said. “As a nation, we need to significantly increase our investment in the science, education, and advocacy, in order to expand effective suicide prevention efforts. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.”
For months, I’ve been noting the ways the suicide crisis is so strange. This morning, read my new piece on it:https://t.co/dGxSdabGYW
— Charles Fain Lehman (@CharlesFLehman) February 15, 2020