Harrisburg, PA — Recent data released by the CDC indicates suicide rates are rising across the U.S., including Pennsylvania, where the rate of suicide among people of all ages increased by 34 percent from 1999 through 2016.
Governor Tom Wolf today reminded all Pennsylvanians that mental health resources and support are available throughout the state, and that seeking help for mental health disease should not be considered a weakness.
“We all know people who may be suffering and may not know where to turn for mental health services,” Governor Wolf said. “Each of us can take the step to reach out to a friend if they are in need and let them know that help is available. There are numerous caring organizations and resources here to help and support and I want to be sure that information is readily known.”
The Department of Human Services Advisory Committee of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) prioritized a state suicide prevention plan as one of their major goals to prevent suicide in Pennsylvania.
PreventSuicidePa.org was created to support those who are affected by suicide, and to provide education, awareness, and understanding by collaborating with the community to prevent suicide, and reduce the stigma associated with suicide.
Also, state health agencies recommend the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255, which provides urgent needs and direction to help in every area of the state. A text option is also available via the Crisis Text Line, offering free 24/7 support by texting “PA” to 741741 to, in turn, text with a trained Crisis Counselor there to support people in crisis.
According to the CDC date, more than half of those who died by suicide did not have a diagnosed mental health condition, a possible indicator of people not seeking mental health services because of the negative stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis.
“Depression and mental health conditions affect many Pennsylvanians, with nearly 40 percent of Pennsylvanians reporting having poor mental health at least once a month,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “There are medical professionals available to treat these conditions. It is important that people realize that help is available for those who need it.”
Mental health services in Pennsylvania are administered through county Mental Health and Developmental Services (MH/DS) program offices and the actual mental health services are delivered by the county or local provider agencies under contract with the county MH/DS office.
MAP: Percent change in annual suicide rate,* by state — United States, from 1999–2001 to 2014–2016
* Per 100,000 population, age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.
Insurance coverage should not be a barrier to seeking treatment. Gov. Wolf expanded Medicaid to cover an additional 700,000 Pennsylvanians, with more people seeking treatment for mental health services. In addition, The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance is strongly enforcing state and federal laws requiring insurance to cover mental health treatment at parity – the same level – as medical coverage with the same deductibles, co-pays, number of inpatient or outpatient visits. The department also is currently conducting market-conduct exams of major health insurers to make sure they are complying with the parity requirements.
“I know all Pennsylvanians share my goals of a commonwealth where everyone has the support necessary to get help when needed, and that everyone knows they have somewhere to turn for that help,” Gov. Wolf said.
Suicide Prevention Resources in PA:
- Prevent Suicide PA
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- If You Are Thinking About Suicide: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Crisis Text Line
- Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text “PA” to 741741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis.
- Pennsylvania Student Assistance Program
- Search for services in your county here.
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