Trust for America’s Health hosted a webinar to discuss the epidemics of alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths in 2023. Panelists, Debra Houry, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science at CDC, Shairi Turner MD, MPH, Crisis Text Line, Shelby Rowe, Executive Director at of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), each provided insight into the current trends and actions that need to be taken to address suicide, overdoses, and mental health issues that impact our communities, family, and children.
Data from 2021 indicated an 11% increase in rates of death due to alcohol, drug overdose, and suicide, with a 65% increase in deaths of youth attributed to the same causes. Suicide rates from ages 10-17 increased roughly 71% over the same period of time. The panelists recommend an investment in prevention and conditions that promote health, prevent substance misuse and overdose, and transform the mental health and substance use prevention system.
Dr. Debra Houry and Dr. Shairi Turner both discussed the impacts of childhood trauma and how Adverse Childhood Expereiences (ACEs), are linked to overdoses, suicidal ideations, alcohol abuse, mood disorders, chronic health conditions, and suicide. The experts agreed that there is a critical need for crisis intervention to prevent suicide. Shelby Rowe put forth a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention that will require centering lived experiences, partnerships and collaboration, safe and effective messaging and reporting, culturally competent approaches, and evidence-based prevention.
Dr. Shairi Turner provided the Crisis Text Line, providing free, confidential 24/7 access to mental health support and crisis intervention in English and Spanish.
By Harper Dilley, Policy Intern