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National and State Suicide Rates Continue to Increase; Access to Behavioral Health Care Critical

June 08, 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a VitalSigns monthly report highlighting the increasing rate of suicide across the nation. It states that suicide rates have increased in almost every state from 1999 through 2016. In Pennsylvania, the suicide rate increased 34.3 percent; a startling statistic that underscores the pressing need for more focused attention on behavioral health care services.

Suicide, the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, has become a leading cause of death in the United States. While depression, substance abuse, and other behavioral health disorders can be contributing factors to a suicide, more than half of people who die because of suicide have no known behavioral health concern.

As warning sign awareness and prevention become more important among communities and health care providers, the CDC’s recommendations include the following:

  • State programs that provide temporary financial support for individuals in need
  • Medical treatment options that are convenient and easily accessible
  • Enhanced community programs that provide a sense of belonging and offer support
  • Education that teaches problem-solving skills and how to manage challenges
  • Learning the early warning signs to help identify individuals at risk

HAP and the hospital community have strongly advocated for more resources for behavioral health care. HAP is advocating for increased government commitment for behavioral health funding; protection of insurance coverage and access to care; as well as a reduction in the regulatory barriers to primary care and behavioral health care integration.

In addition, HAP is asking the Pennsylvania Senate to move forward with legislation to expand access to telemedicine services in Pennsylvania. HAP and the hospital community strongly support Senate Bill 780 (Vogel, R-Beaver), telemedicine legislation that would ensure all Pennsylvanians better access to quality care—including behavioral health care—through telemedicine programs.

For more information about behavioral health, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy. For questions about population health, contact Robert Shipp, HAP’s vice president, population health strategies.

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