Suicide: a Public Health Approach
Sunday, March 17th, 9:00 pm EDT on Twitter (SPSMCHAT 2.0 Reboot!) with simultaneous YotTube Live Streaming
Melissa Brown @MMBrown14 discusses her concepts about wrapping a public health/population level model around suicide as well as the projected work of the new AAS Public Health Committee.
From the CDC Foundation: https://www.cdcfoundation.org/what-public-health
Public Health connects us all. Together our impact is greater.
Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.
Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.
Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services and conducting research—in contrast to clinical professionals like doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. Public health also works to limit health disparities. A large part of public health is promoting healthcare equity, quality and accessibility.
For more on a backstory on the importance of a public health approach, please check out this SPSMChat from November 8, 2015 with Jerry Reed.
Public Health plays a vital role in addressing the burden of suicide. Suicidologists have welcomed the surveillance, data collection, and research the field of public health has contributed to the study of suicide; however, there are many other skills and resources public health professionals can bring to the table. Suicide rates have continued to rise across nearly all of the US and globally, generating a public health crisis. The scope of the issue requires population-level methodologies to address these rising rates and the populations exposed and bereaved by these deaths. The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has approved a NEW committee for public health to provide a base of action for population level efforts addressing suicide. A committee for Public Health helps balance AAS by clearly expanding the focus of AAS to include population-level approaches to reduce and address both prevention and impacts of suicide.
Specific actions this committee could contribute include:
- Provide a platform to recruit and engage public health professionals in suicidology.
- Provide a knowledge-base for public health research addressing population/community approaches to suicide prevention.
- Engage researchers in the epidemiology of suicide.
- Development and dissemination of population level risk-reduction strategies.
- Evaluate current efforts for suicide prevention to inform and direct future decision-making.
- Promotion of comprehensive suicide prevention through collaboration.
- Review of abstracts related to public/population health topics for AAS annual conferences.
- Provide networking opportunities at the AAS annual conference for individuals interested in population-level approaches to address suicide.
- Assist in formulating responses to population level events and policies (i.e. natural disasters, celebrity suicides, policies/regulations, etc.) associated with suicide.
As Chair of this new Public Health Committee, I welcome anyone interested in addressing this issue through a public health approach. It is not required for committee members to possess a degree in public health or prior experience. If interested, please feel free to contact me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Melissa Brown, DrPH, MPH
Margaret Melissa Brown, DrPH, MPH, is a Behavioral Scientist at the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, working in suicide prevention. She is a graduate of the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky (UK). Areas of education concentration include health management and policy, research management, epidemiology, health behavior, individual and family development (family studies), and nursing. Dr. Brown has mentored and collaborated with a diverse group of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students both within the United States and internationally. Past research has focused on suicide (military, community impact, suicide exposure and bereavement, LGBTQ, prevention and postvention, clergy, posttraumatic growth after suicide), family and community violence, sexual trauma related PTSD, telemedicine, and violence fatality surveillance (NVDRS).