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Michigan Suicide Commission report details underlying causes, prevention efforts

mental health file
Posted at 9:30 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 09:30:53-04

LANSING, Mich. — With someone dying by suicide every six hours in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is releasing a report that makes recommendations on how to reduce the state’s suicide rate.

The Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission Initial Report is from a group appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in March 2020, according to a news release Monday.

“In Michigan, anyone who needs help should be able to get it,” Whitmer said. “This task force will do critical work to collect data, expand resources and implement best practices so we can save lives. We must work together to reduce suicide rates in Michigan and make sure that everyone knows that it’s OK to not be OK and help is always here.”

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The commission’s priorities were to:

  • Minimize risk for suicidal behavior by promoting safe environments, resiliency and connectedness
  • Increase and expand access to care to support Michiganders who are at-risk
  • Improve suicide prevention training and education
  • Implement best practices in suicide prevention for health care systems
  • Enhance suicide-specific data collection and systems

“Suicide is preventable, and Michigan’s current suicide rates are unacceptable,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health. “However, through our plans and intentional actions, we can provide the help and resources necessary to save lives. Together, we can make Michigan a model state for suicide prevention, and a place where everyone gets the help they need, when they need it.”

The first section in the report highlights in-depth data regarding the burden of suicide within the state, identified risk factors and populations at greater risk for death by suicide.

The second section includes the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission initial priorities and recommendations “as a comprehensive approach to reduce suicide attempts and deaths.”

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The commission is expected to work with state departments, nonprofit organizations and universities to research the causes and possible underlying factors of suicide in the state.

Provisional 2020 data for Michigan shows 1,282 suicide deaths – and that number is expected to increase as more suicide reports are finalized.

In 2019, there were 1,471 suicides in Michigan.

It’s the 10th-leading cause of death in the state.

Suicidal thoughts by themselves are not dangerous, but the response to them “can make all the difference,” MDHHS officials said.

Mental health resources from MDHHS can be found here.

Read the commission’s full report here.