Oct 28, 2019

Providers, employers link up on suicide prevention

Illustration of two hands reaching out for each other.

Aïda Amer/Axios

Hospital-based programs are working with employers and community organizations to tackle gun violence and suicide.

What's happening: Companies have pleaded with Congress to pass stronger gun control laws to help stop workplace shootings and suicides. But as bills from the House stall in the Senate, employers are turning to health care providers for help.

By the numbers: The suicide rate among adults ages 16 to 64 rose 34% from 2000 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Where it stands: Businesses don't want to get into partisan conversations about gun violence. Instead, they're working with clinicians on access to treatment, warning signs and safety measures for employees, per the Harvard Business Review.

  • In Utah, Intermountain Healthcare partners with human-resources departments and local religious leaders on an outreach program designed to reduce the state's high suicide rate.
  • In New York City, The NYPD is partnering with a privately run hospital for free counseling and prescriptions. At least 10 officers have died by suicide this year.

Yes, but: Many employees still struggle to get their mental health treatment covered, NPR reports.

  • Out-of-pocket spending on inpatient mental health care between 2012 and 2017 grew nearly 13 times faster than all inpatient care.

The bottom line: The American Psychological Association found the percentage of people dealing with suicidal thoughts increased by 47% from 2008 to 2017.

  • 60% of all gun deaths in 2017 were from suicide, the Pew Research Center notes.
  • There is great public support among gun owners and non-gun owners for health care providers to talk about gun safety, an October study published in Health Affairs says.

If you have any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please pick up the phone right now and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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