Public perceptions about suicide and mental health are changing

A new national public perception survey reveals the majority of adults in the U.S. (94%) see suicide as a preventable public health issue, and 83% say they would be interested in learning how they might be able to play a role in helping someone who may be suicidal. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct a new national public perception survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. to better understand the public’s attitudes and beliefs about mental health, suicide prevention and the nation’s crisis hotline services. Some of the other major findings include:

• Adults in the U.S. believe suicide can be prevented, but need education, with the majority seeing suicide as preventable at least sometimes, and 75% believing most people who die by suicide show signs beforehand. Adults in the

U.S.overwhelmingly would take action if someone close to them was thinking about suicide (96%). But the survey shows there is a considerable gap between believing others show warning signs and being able to identify the signs and how to help.

• Exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic and other world events, mental health has become a leading priority in the U.S. with people saying their own mental health is equally important to physical health (76%). However, only 31% of adults believe these issues are treated equally in our current health system.

• When it comes to accessing mental health services, the majority of adults in the U.S. (61%) believe providing better access to mental health care and talk therapy, couples counseling, family therapy, and tele-therapy would help reduce the number of people who die by suicide.

• National action from across all sectors is imperative. The majority of adults in the U.S. (78%) believe that training and education for professionals (first responders, health care providers, community leaders, faith leaders, the media, etc.) would be most helpful for reducing the number of people who die by suicide.

The newly released findings have the potential to inform and transform our country’s public health messaging and advocacy efforts regarding these critical health issues – especially now as more and more people in the United States are reporting mental health impacts.

See the full survey results here. You might be interested in other articles in News and Research.

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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