PHOENIX — With suicide emerging as a serious public health issue both nationally and in Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey announced today a new plan to address this disturbing trend and save lives. The development of the plan follows months of stakeholder meetings and engagement, led by Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director Dr. Cara Christ.
During today’s State of the State Address, the Governor said:
When it comes to our kids: in the iPhone era, they face a world dramatically different than the one we grew up in. Modern technology. Social Media. Loneliness. Vaping. We need solutions that focus on the whole child, promoting personal resilience, leveraging our community and a supportive environment.
Let’s start by increasing access to mental health care. We’re working with Senator Kate Brophy McGee and Representative Jeff Weninger on a long overdue reform. Insurance companies should be covering mental health, just like they cover an annual physical. And we’re going to make sure they do.
In 2018, 1,432 Arizona residents died from suicide, an increase from 1,304 suicides among Arizona residents in 2017. Last year, ADHS convened stakeholders from across the state, including government agencies, tribal nations, community partners, schools, mental health professionals, healthcare providers, first responders, families and individuals impacted by suicide, to identify and develop strategies aimed at engaging our community and developing a supportive environment.
The Suicide Prevention Action Plan includes three main goals:
- Improve the mental health of individuals and communities;
- Collect new data to monitor suicide in Arizona and identify the most affected demographic groups;
- And ensure treatment and support services are available to clinicians, communities, families and survivors.
“It is heartbreaking for families, friends, and communities when someone dies from suicide and can have a lifelong impact,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and interim director of the Department of Economic Security. “This Action Plan calls for a whole community approach to prevent suicide. ADHS will continue to implement statewide strategies that decrease factors that put people at risk of suicide, increase protective factors that promote resilience and coping, and ensure those who need help can access it.”
The Suicide Prevention Action Plan can be read online at azhealth.gov/suicide-action-plan. ADHS will be releasing the 2018 Suicide Report later in January. For those living with suicidal thoughts or behavior, or if you know someone who is, there is help and hope. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to be confidentially connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area. Counselors can also be reached through the Crisis Text Line by texting "TALK" to 741-741.