US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

WASHINGTON — The federal government launched a broad national campaign Tuesday aimed at reducing high suicide rates, urging the public to reach out to others, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and acknowledge daily stresses in people’s lives.

Known as REACH, the government campaign is the core part of a $53 million, two-year effort announced by President Donald Trump to reduce suicide, particularly among veterans.

Starting Wednesday, digital ads will hit the internet with the key message that “suicide is preventable” and that collective action not only by government but also by businesses, schools, nonprofits and faith-based organizations can overcome the stigma of discussing mental health and empower people to understand risk factors, stay connected with others and talk openly about problems.

“Working together, we can implement this road map and end this national tragedy of suicide,” said Vice-President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, a lead spokesperson for the government effort. She called it an opportune time, noting increased social distancing because of the coronavirus.

“All of us have been facing anxieties and isolation,” she said. “It’s OK to not be OK. … The best thing is to talk about it more, not less.”

“No one should be afraid to ask for help,” she added.

Trump established a federal task force last year to develop a way to lower veterans’ suicides. Currently, about 20 veterans, guardsmen and reservists die by suicide each day, about 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military. The government says about 14 of those 20 were not under the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs, pointing to a need for improved community outreach.

With the coronavirus still raging across communities, officials expressed hope that the message of suicide prevention can aid the public more widely, not just veterans.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is helping the effort, stressed the need to stay connected by texting, emailing or, in the case of his kids, writing “old-fashioned letters to grandma and grandpa.” He described stigma against getting help as a much bigger public health threat than cigarettes or COVID-19.

“When we feel comfortable seeking help, and unless more people feel comfortable offering help without judgment, we’ll never reach those who need it the most,” he said.

Acknowledging the impact of the broader pandemic, Adams also offered a separate public service message: Wear a mask.

His public admonition comes as many governors are pushing for a national mandate on wearing masks. Trump has repeatedly declined to wear masks in public and recently held campaign-style events in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the White House on the Fourth of July where he and many attendees went bare-faced.

“It’s not an impingement on your freedom,” Adams said, calling masks the No. 1 way to stem spread of COVID-19. “It actually increases your freedom and your choices because it lowers spread of the disease and increases the chances we will be able to open and stay open.”

“It actually will decrease that hopelessness. It will actually lower suicide rates,” he said.

Public health experts urged people to go to the website wearewithinreach.net and take a pledge “to reach and be part of the solution” to stem suicide. The website offers information on risk factors for suicide and ways people can get help.

“By having this conversation, we will save lives,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, executive director of the suicide prevention effort.

Hope Yen, The Associated Press

suicide

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

If you're heading out to the West Country have a plan in case things go wrong, says Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services fire chief Steve Debienne.
(Photo from CRFRS Facebook)
West Country visitors should have an emergency plan: regional fire chief

Cellphones can’t be relied on in many back country areas

Rode
Sarcevic leads an impressive list of additions to RDC Kings soccer

In 2019 the RDC Kings soccer program took a major step forward… Continue reading

The Red Deer PCN Women's Fun Run will take on a different look this weekend with rising COVID-19 numbers.
Women’s Fun Run goes ahead this weekend in Red Deer

With new public health measures in place because of rising COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw asked Albertans to limit travel throughout the province as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears 900 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports additional 2,211 COVID-19 cases

David Eggen, the NDP’s advanced education critic, said the UCP government has been focused on cutting funding to post-secondary institutions across Alberta. (Contributed photo)
NDP worry new status for Red Deer College doesn’t mean more funding

This week the province announced that RDC will become a polytechnic institute

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

‘Uniquely reprehensible’: No parole for 35 years for Calgary man in triple murder

‘Uniquely reprehensible’: No parole for 35 years for Calgary man in triple murder

A sign is seen at a walk-in COVID-19 in Montreal on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
NACI chair says advice not meant to give AstraZeneca recipients vaccine remorse

NACI chair says advice not meant to give AstraZeneca recipients vaccine remorse

People in Peel region line up outside the University of Toronto Mississauga campus for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Promising pandemic signs in Ontario, Quebec as urgency shifts to N.S., Alberta

Promising pandemic signs in Ontario, Quebec as urgency shifts to N.S., Alberta

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves upon departure from Boryspil International airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 6, 2021. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with top Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and reaffirmed Washington's support for the country in the wake of heightened tensions with Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, Pool)
US says fate of nuclear pact up to Iran as talks resume

US says fate of nuclear pact up to Iran as talks resume

People embrace after a school shooting at Rigby Middle School in Rigby, Idaho on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Authorities say a shooting at the eastern Idaho middle school has injured two students and a custodian, and a male student has been taken into custody. (John Roark /The Idaho Post-Register via AP)
Sheriff: Girl shoots 3 at Idaho school; teacher disarms her

Sheriff: Girl shoots 3 at Idaho school; teacher disarms her

The Cineplex Odeon Theatre at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto is shown on December 16, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
Cineplex hopes for brighter summer blockbuster season as it reports quarterly loss

Cineplex hopes for brighter summer blockbuster season as it reports quarterly loss

FILE - David Oyelowo posing for a portrait in New York on April 8, 2019. Oyelowo makes his directorial debut in “The Water Man," which arrives in theaters Friday. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)
David Oyelowo fulfills new directing passion in ‘Water Man’

David Oyelowo fulfills new directing passion in ‘Water Man’

Can COVID-19 vaccines affect my period?

Can COVID-19 vaccines affect my period?

Most Read