AUSTIN, Texas — Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Texas. To help prevent it, volunteer advocates from the Texas chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Wednesday, February 15 to convince their legislative leaders to support the Veteran Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SB 578) and to introduce legislation that would mandate suicide prevention training for health care professionals.
“My mom died by suicide 18 years ago, and it was not until I became active in AFSP that I found my voice for suicide awareness and prevention. It is through AFSP that I am able to join with others to advocate for the people of Texas,” said Amy Grosso, Ph.D., Board Member for the AFSP Central Texas chapter.
Advocates are encouraging their legislative leaders to amend subchapter A, chapter 434, of the Government Code to add a Veteran Suicide Prevention Action Plan. To protect our veterans we need the Texas Veterans Commission, in collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and other organizations, to develop a comprehensive action plan to increase access to and availability of professional veteran health services to prevent veteran suicides.
Connecting suicidal individuals with quality health care is a vital component in preventing suicide deaths. However, many health professionals are unprepared to assess, treat, and manage suicidal behavior as this is not a routine part of their training or continuing education. This is especially alarming when we know that primary care professionals prescribe more psychotropic medications than any other type of provider (65 percent prescribed by GPs, OB/GYNs, pediatricians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners vs. 35 percent by psychiatrists, addiction specialists, psychologists, and all other specialties). Six states currently require this training via statute (Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington).
This is the second time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in Texas. Ms. Grosso is part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators.
Suicide in Texas
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 in Texas. On average one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Texas annual than by homicide; the total deaths to suicide reflect a total of 72,622 years of potential life lost before age 65.