National Suicide Facts

Suicide exacts an enormous toll from the American people. Our nation loses 43,000 lives to this tragedy each year; another 1.1 million receive emergency care after attempting suicide. The devastating trauma, loss, and suffering are multiplied in the lives of family members and friends.

In 1999, Surgeon General David Satcher issued a Call to Action to prevent suicide with its most important recommendation, the completion of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP). In 2012, the plan was revised. The NSSP lays out a framework for action and guides development of an array of services and programs aimed at suicide prevention. It strives to promote and provide direction to efforts to modify the social infrastructure in ways that will affect the most basic attitudes about suicide and its prevention, and that will change judicial, educational, and health care systems.

Goals and Objectives for Action is a key element in the NSSP. Its clear articulation of thirteen goals and objectives provides a roadmap for action. The NSSP is based on existing knowledge about suicidal behavior and suicide prevention. It employs the public health approach, which has helped the nation effectively address problems as diverse as tuberculosis, heart disease, and unintentional injury. This groundbreaking document outlines the components of a comprehensive suicide prevention plan, describes the public health approach as it relates to suicide, and summarizes the knowledge gained from the experience of suicide prevention initiatives in other nations.