Doctors call for government action as suicide increases

Xavier Symons
May 21, 2016
Reproduced with Permission

A US doctor has voiced grave concern about government inaction on increasing suicide rates in the country.

A report released late last month from the National Center for Health Statistics documented a sobering set of statistics that indicate that the suicide rate has increased during the period 1999-2014, particularly in selected demographic groups.

The average percent increase in the age-adjusted suicide rate was about 1% per year from 1999 through 2006, which increased to 2% from 2006 to 2014. From 1999 through 2014, the percent increase in age-adjusted suicide was greater for females (a 45% increase) than males, who had a 16% increase. The suicide rate for females aged 10-14 years had the largest percent increase, a 200% increase.

Speaking to MedScape , Columbia University psychiatrist Jeffrey A. Lieberman criticized the lack of funding for research into suicide prevention:

it's hard to understand the disconnect between the amount of resources that we have and those that are being allocated to studying them and providing care…It's hard to understand why these rates, which are really the tips of the iceberg of an overall chronically failed mental healthcare policy in this country, have not risen to the level of a national emergency, like Zika virus, Ebola, or AIDS years before.

Lieberman speculated about the possible reasons for the lack of funding:

I can only think that the reason is that there is a stigma attached to mental illness. It relates to drug abuse and the conflation of things that are not medical conditions and may relate to failings in moral character or behaviors that are sinful.

Lieberman also gestured toward the need for tighter gun laws - a comment that was very timely. Another study, released on Friday, observed a correlation between States with liberal gun laws and increased suicide rates.