Historically, LGBTI people and communities have been relatively invisible in mental health and suicide prevention strategies, policies and frameworks and thus excluded from program and project responses. This document aims to provide you with Strategies for Action that will ensure that targeted responses adequately and appropriately support the needs of LGBTI people and communities as a priority. This is overdue and essential if we are truly to work towards the targets we have set ourselves as a country to tackle suicide.
Mental health and suicide
The greatest burdens of suicide, in terms of potential years of life lost or potential earnings lost, occur among men between 25 to 54 years old, reflecting fundamental demographic characteristics of the population and sustained elevated rates across these years. Yet, the individuals who comprise this broader population generally have received the least attention from many of those who are committed to developing methods of prevention and clinical intervention.
Although men in the middle years (MIMY)—that is, men 35–64 years of age—represent 19 percent of the population of the United States, they account for 40 percent of the suicides in this country. The number of men in this age group and their relative representation in the U.S. population are both increasing.
First responders—paramedics, firefighters, police, corrections officers—are considered to be at greater risk for Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than most other occupations. This is because their everyday duties routinely encounter “traumatic stressors” (Haugen, 2012, p.370). Some researchers believe that experiencing PTSD is also a highrisk factor for subsequent suicidal behaviours (Sareen, et al., 2007). Military suicides related to PTSD have been covered extensively by the media in recent years.
In this special issue of Aging & Mental Health, they explore a range of topics salient to suicide and aging. They examine theories of suicide and aging, including the examination of suicide from a developmental and lifespan prospective. They focus on how early developmental factors such as adverse childhood experiences (ACE) may have enduring consequences to suicide risk in late life.
A majority (65%) of U.S. adults has seen a primary care physician within the past 12 months, yet only 12% have seen a mental health counselor or therapist. Despite this, about 9 in 10 adults (89%) feel that mental health and physical health are equally important for their own overall health. However, more than half (56%) say that, in our current healthcare system, physical health is treated as more important than mental health, and less than one-third (28%) feel that mental and physical health are treated equally.
Suicide is a serious and preventable public health problem in the United States. Collaboration among prevention professionals across behavioral health fields has the potential to reduce suicide rates. While multiple factors influence suicidal behaviors, substance use—especially alcohol use—is a significant factor that is linked to a substantial number of suicides and suicide attempts.