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“Suicide is not a single problem”

December 28, 2010

I have not added to this blog in some time. For the past few weeks I have been attempting to understand the etiology of suicidal behaviors. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona presented the following testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in June of 2005: “Suicide is not a single problem; rather it is a single response to multiple problems.” I think he implies that there are other responses to those multiple problems, and I believe that view would be correct. It would also be consistent with the results of the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, which is that adoption of negative behaviors directly correlates with an increase in the number of adverse experiences by a child that are not resolved. Our Alaska response to suicide is to establish a surveillance system, looking for suicidal behaviors, then intervening with therapy. Public awareness campaigns, suicide hotlines, therapeutic interventions, culturally relevant curriculum development and locking up firearms to remove them as a means of acting on a plan. If, as Dr. Carmona and the ACES study postulate, suicide is only one of many responses to multiple problems (or ACE’s), then our suicide prevention plan should really be more proactive, and should also be used to prevent other, equally deadly, consequences. Cancer and heart disease, for example, are about 3 – 4 times higher in people with multiple ACE’s, just as suicide is higher. If the attributable risk factors for Cancer and Heart Disease are similar to those for suicide (approximately 67%) we could achieve a substantial gain in quality of life if we look for the multiple problems together. Think about it. We shouldn’t be looking at the single response. We should be expanding our reach to search for multiple problems, and the differing responses, of which suicide is but one.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David Smith permalink
    August 19, 2011 7:20 PM

    To remove the toxcicity from the adverse experiences we have as children… To find a way to help people change their view of their past. To “Mend” their vision of the past will help them to stop living in the toxic stew that their mind has created. Allow them to move foward without the baggage of the past.

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