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STUDY: More than half of all adults with serious thoughts of suicide do not receive mental health services

April 21, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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Slightly more than half (51.8 percent) of the 8.6 million American adults who had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year did not receive mental health services, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA’s report shows that among those who had serious thoughts of suicide and did not receive treatment, nearly three out of four did not perceive the need for treatment.

Each year more than 35,000 reported deaths are attributed to suicide and studies have indicated that those who have serious thoughts of suicide are at increased risk of suicide attempts and eventual death by suicide.

“Suicide is among one of our nation’s most preventable causes of death and it devastates the lives of countless families and friends left behind,” said Paolo del Vecchio, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. “The earlier we can reach out to people in crisis with needed mental health services, the more lives we can save, and the more people we can help return to happy, productive lives.”

The SAMHSA-sponsored toll free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) -- provides 24/7, year round immediate confidential counseling for people in crisis or for people who are concerned that someone they know may be in crisis. The Lifeline can also be accessed online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org .

The report, Half of Adults with Serious Thoughts of Suicide Do Not Receive Mental Health Services, is available on the SAMHSA website. It is drawn from data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of 67,000 Americans from across the country. 

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