The Public Pulse: Suicide prevention strategies

On June 20, a World-Herald editorial entitled “CDC’s troubling findings about suicide show need for action” focused on the ever-growing problem of suicide and called for a “stepped-up response” from the community to connect those at risk to those who can help.

Project Extra Mile is working with our partners locally and statewide to prevent these tragedies. At the same time, however, it is fair to say that many of us could be doing more to find a solution, whether it’s those of us in public health and prevention, public or elected positions, or those in school environments.

There is a well-documented relationship between excessive alcohol use and death by suicide in the scientific literature. The Centers for Disease Control note that binge drinking is associated with a variety of harms, including suicide. According to CDC data, 23 percent of suicides in Nebraska were attributable to alcohol between 2006 and 2010.

Organizations such as the World Health Organization have recommended evidence-based policies that, if implemented, would reduce binge drinking and its harms in our communities. Those strategies include raising the price (through higher taxes) as well as restricting alcohol availability and advertising. WHO considers them the most effective and cost-efficient way for cash-strapped governments to address the problem.

Alcohol is only one risk factor for suicide, but with the solutions so clear and present, we should be doing more to prevent alcohol-involved suicides in Nebraska before they happen.

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