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Recent CDC report, deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, again bring attention to suicide as public health issue

Resources and recommendations for best practices concerning suicide

By CARF International

This week brings renewed attention to the issue of suicide. While the tragic losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain will get headlines, they represent a growing public health issue that is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States: suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a report this week, Suicide rising across the US, which reiterates the findings of other recent studies that show suicide rates have risen over the past 20 years. However, it also takes a step further to outline suicide warning signs, how to help, and recommendations for prevention.

These events and this report offer an opportunity to address misconceptions, stigma, and a lack of resources that act as barriers for people at risk, and to bring the focus toward resources and best practices.


Research has demonstrated that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide. The Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Alliance) issued statements this week in response to the deaths of Kate Space and Anthony Bourdain. The statements are addressed to journalists and other reporters to offer recommendations on how to report on the issue.

More information can be found at Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide (PDF), which both the CDC report and Alliance recommend.

Suicide as a public health issue

The Washington Post published a story this week, Suicide rates rise sharply across the United States, new report shows, in response to the CDC report. The article highlights environmental factors that correlate with suicide risk, such as “strained relationships; life stressors, often involving work or finances; substance use problems; physical health conditions; and recent or impending crises.”

“The most important takeaway,” concludes the article based on information from mental health professionals, “is that suicide is an issue not only for the mentally ill but for anyone struggling with serious lifestyle problems.”

The Alliance also issued a statement, Suicide is Not Just about Mental Illness, in response to the CDC report to underscore how “life events, isolation, and other environmental and societal conditions play just as important a role in suicide as mental illness.”


A valuable source of information is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (, 1-800-273-8255), a free and confidential resource for people at risk as well as those interested in helping.

Providers of behavioral health and other health services can refer to resources and recommendations offered by the Alliance.

The CDC has published Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices, a package of strategies based on the best available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities with the greatest potential to prevent suicide.

CARF-accredited providers can refer to the Quality Practice Notice on Suicide Prevention, or Section 4.C. in the Behavioral Health Standards Manual, for practices that address suicide risk assessment and prevention.

(Behavioral Health,Child and Youth Services)

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