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Suicide: The Public Health Crisis We Need to Discuss

Suicide: The Public Health Crisis We Need to Discuss


Tragically, a suicide takes place every 40 seconds, claiming more than 800,000 lives each year globally.1 In the United States alone, in 2016 nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise in the U.S.2 These are compelling numbers, but they do not speak to the enormity of the human losses from suicide, the loss of great potential, and the suffering of both the people who took their lives and their families and loved ones.

Suicide is a very complex issue that is typically related to brain disorders, particularly depression. While we know more about the brain and mental illnesses than ever before, more knowledge is needed to understand what leads to suicide and how to help prevent it. Janssen is committed to further championing science and clinical research to gain insights and develop new and better treatments for serious mental health conditions.

To help in the short-term and in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, and the start of National Suicide Prevention Week, Janssen has launched a new digital video series called “Suicide: The Public Health Crisis We Need to Discuss,” as part of its Champions of Science: Janssen Healthy Minds Program.

I offer some medical perspectives about suicide in the videos, which are hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Vicki Mabrey. The program also includes Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Mackenzie Drazan, Mental Health Advocate and Founder of non-profit organization, Teaching Everyone About Mental Health (TEAM).

In the videos, we share our knowledge and personal experiences while providing tips about how to recognize people who may be at risk and how our society can work together to help prevent suicide.

Our guest mental health advocate Mackenzie Drazen explains that after losing her sister to suicide, her family did not know how to talk about suicide and struggled to find resources because it was such a difficult topic. She discusses her organization, TEAM, and how she is helping families find the mental health resources they need.

Bob Gebbia, the CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, explains that suicide can be prevented, and that research shows that we can reduce suicidal risk by making sure we connect with one another.

Bob believes that these new videos and other resources are helping to ensure people have information and new tools to reach out for help.  He has inspired us by saying that “together we can save lives.”

It’s important to have honest conversations about mental health and suicide in our families and among friends, as well as in society in general.

The scientific community also needs to do conduct more research to better understand suicide and to find ways to prevent it. Industry, governments, academia and nonprofit organizations need to work more closely together on the scourge of suicide in our society.

Our  new videos about suicide prevention can be viewed on the Janssen YouTube channel. The Champions of Science: Janssen Healthy Minds initiative is designed to educate the public about advances in neuroscience research and provide news and information about mental health and brain disorders, including suicide prevention.  

If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text the Crisis Text Line by typing TALK to 741741. For more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit and TEAM (Teaching Everyone About Mental Health).

September 10, 2018

1 World Health Organization. (2018). Suicide data. Accessed August 23, 2018 from http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

2 US Center for Disease Control News Room 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html