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Surgeon General Releases Suicide Prevention Guide

Aired May 2, 2001 - 09:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you to Washington now. Surgeon General David Satcher addressing a crowd, talking about the government putting out its first guide -- national guide to preventing suicide. Let's listen in.

DR. DAVID SATCHER, SURGEON GENERAL: I'm even more grateful, however, for the fact that about two years ago we issued the surgeon general's call to action for suicide prevention. And there are people who question whether anything really happens when the Surgeon General issues anything.

(LAUGHTER)

SATCHER: So today is great evidence of the fact that all over the country people have responded to the call to action for suicide prevention. And I just want to begin by thanking all of you who participated in that response.

The fact that over half of the states in this country are now in the process of developing strategies for suicide prevention really is testimony to the concern about this issue among people throughout this country, but also to the fact that people have responded. Some of those activities actually started before our call to action, but we've enjoyed, over the last few years, working with many of you.

And I certainly want to salute Doctor Bernie Arons, the director for the Center for Mental Health Services. It's been great working with him. Bernie and I are in the process of developing the Surgeon General's report on mental health -- traveled to Australia in 1999 to really look at their program to destigmatize mental illness. But also to look at their community-based systems of care, and that was quite a rewarding trip for both of us. But traveling with him was special.

I've also appreciated the opportunity to work with other people whom you hear from today, especially Jerry Weyrauch. And we didn't introduce Elsie, sitting on the end of that row. Elsie Weyrauch, who has really been a staunch leader in this field, always challenging us to make sure that whatever we do actually gets to the people who need to hear it. And she questions whether: Are we really reaching the people, or are we just talking to ourselves?

So I'm delighted to be with them today. You're going to hear from Maggie Weane (ph) and Amanda Lewis later. But we've had some great partners. And again, I just have to again recognize the surgeon general of the Air Force. It's rare that I have the opportunity to do that, and -- why don't you stand up again, General Carson?

(APPLAUSE)

SATCHER: You'll hear a little more later about that working with Colonel David Lipp (ph), who has really become a part our office. I don't know what's going to happen when he leaves, if he leaves. But he is such a part of who we are in the office of the Surgeon General now.

A great friend ours who is here today, Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, wrote an excellent book about her own experiences with bipolar disorders and attempted suicides. And it was entitled "Night Falls Fast." In that book, she said that when it comes to suicide and mental illness, the gap between what we know and what we do is lethal. Today we're here to take a major step toward filling that gap.

Only recently have we had the knowledge and the tools available to us to approach suicide as a public health problem, with realistic opportunities to save lives. But if we apply the existing knowledge, we can significantly lower the rate of suicide in this country. With that in mind, the national strategy that we outline today represents a rational and organized way to marshal preventive efforts and to ensure that they are effective.

It is especially fitting that we release these goals and objectives in May, which is mental health month, and shortly before the observance of May 6th through 12th as National Suicide Prevention Week.

The goals and objectives lay out a framework for action, and they guide development of an array of services and programs. They will provide direction to efforts to modify the social infrastructure in ways that will affect the most basic attitudes about suicide. And that will also seek to change judicial, educational, social service and health care systems in this country.

KAGAN: We've been listening to Surgeon General David Satcher. He's in Washington today, announcing the first national prevention guide for suicide. This is a big country -- this is a big problem in the United States. Thirty thousand people commit suicide every year. Another half million try to commit suicide. It's the eighth overall cause of death, and it is the third overall cause of death for people 10-24.

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