Suicide prevention efforts in the United States and their effectiveness

Amy Barnhorst, Hilary Gonzales, Rameesha Asif-Sattar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Suicide is a serious public health problem in the United States, and suicide rates have been increasing for more than a decade. Rural areas are more impacted than urban areas, reinforcing that social, cultural, and economic factors contribute to risk. This article reviews recent work about these contributors to suicide and how they may inform prevention efforts. RECENT FINDINGS: Current research has shown that suicide is more than a mental health problem with a psychiatric or medical solution. Universal screening and referral by gatekeepers target a large group with a low baseline risk, and there are few treatments proven to reduce death by suicide, as well as a severe shortage of mental health providers in the United States to provide them. Instead, suicide prevention polices can target various other factors that contribute to elevated suicide risk at the population level, including reducing socioeconomic deprivation and access to firearms, both of which are often higher in rural areas. Internet-based interventions also hold promise as they are highly scalable, accessible almost anywhere, and often anonymous. SUMMARY: Understanding factors that increase suicide risk guide development of evidence-based policies targeted at high-risk groups. Population-level interventions should be developed in collaboration with the target audience for cultural appropriateness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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