AAS praises President's Commission for emphasizing suicide prevention

July 24, 2003

The American Association of Suicidology praised today the release of the Report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The report, entitled Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, makes as its first recommendation to "advance and implement a national campaign to reduce the stigma of seeking care, and a national strategy for suicide prevention."

"The American Association of Suicidology applauds the Commission for recognizing the need to make suicide prevention a priority in this country, and for supporting the development and implementation of a national strategy for suicide prevention," stated AAS Executive Director Dr. Alan Berman. "The commission has reaffirmed the importance of the Surgeon General's National Strategy regarding the seriousness of suicide as a public health problem that demands greater attention," added Berman.

"With the Commission now having issued its report, it is critical that the President and the Congress act aggressively on these recommendations. We need to create an Action Alliance to implement the National Strategy," AAS president Dr. David Rudd emphasized. "This will take federal dollars, but we need to understand that suicide prevention has been under-funded for decades and receives significantly less funding than other public health problems that cause comparable loss of life. The Commission Report can provide the momentum necessary to move forward and make the National Strategy a reality," added Rudd.

The American Association of Suicidology also applauds the Commission's endorsement of a national level public-private partnership to advance the goals and objectives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. AAS strongly supports the Commission's recommendations that mental health be addressed with the same urgency as physical health, as well as supporting the President's call for the elimination of discrimination against mental health care in health insurance programs, and the establishment of parity between mental and physical health. AAS also supports the Commission's call for increased use of evidence-based treatment in a transformed mental health system.

AAS President Rudd commented, "It's important that we spend federal dollars in efficient and effective ways; relying on science to guide our prevention and treatment efforts is critical. We've learned a great deal about effective suicide prevention in the past several decades and the Commission Report affirms the need to provide financial support for the cause of suicide prevention."
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The American Association of Suicidology (AAS), based in Washington, DC, is the oldest and largest scientific and professional organization in the United States representing the field of suicide prevention and suicidology (the study of suicide). Founded in 1968, AAS works to advance an understanding of suicide, its causes and its prevention, through researching and implementing strategies for reducing risk of suicide among all populations. The organization publishes the oldest peer-reviewed journal in suicidology, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. AAS has a diverse membership base that includes researchers, clinicians, educators, public health specialists, crisis workers, students, and "survivors of suicide," that is, those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Through its five divisions, AAS works to forge public and private partnerships that will increase the focus on suicide as a public health issue and best practices in suicide prevention. For more information about AAS, its membership, mission, call 1-202-237-2280 or visit http://www.suicidology.org.

American Association of Suicidology

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