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

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Manluk Centre: Wetaskiwin Regional Aquatics and Fitness will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021. Image/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Manluk Centre to close following new provincial restrictions

The Manluk Centre will be closed to the public until further notice beginning May 10, 2021.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kenney to announce plan for truckers to get COVID-19 vaccinations in nearby states

Alberta is approaching 25,000 active cases of COVID-19, and there are more than 600 people in hospital with the illness

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

Photo (STAR Catholic Logo)
STAR Catholic School Division declines running pilot on K-6 draft curriculum

The Catholic school board conducted an in-depth analysis of the Education Alberta’s draft curriculum

Red dresses hang from trees in a Wetaskiwin park for MMIW awareness. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Red dresses hang in Wetaskiwin for MMIW awareness

Red dresses hang in various locations across Wetaskiwin for National Red Dress… Continue reading

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Big truck semi trailer moves on the highway towards sunset
Alberta’s cross-border truckers to be vaccinated at Montana rest stop

2,000 Alberta truck drivers who transport goods across the border will be able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Montana

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

A wild rabbit grazes in Nanaimo, B.C. in this Feb.2, 2018 photo. Rabbit owners in Alberta are being warned about a deadly virus that was identified in a southern Alberta household last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
‘Like a flash fire:’ Rabbit owners warned about outbreak of deadly disease in Alberta

The disease is confined to rabbits and cannot spread to humans

Most Read