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Two Indian Americans to lead White House National Strategy for Suicide Prevention

More than 49,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2022. That’s one death every 11 minutes: White House fact sheet

Neera Tanden and Vivek Murthy / Wikipedia

Two Indian Americans, Neera Tandon and Dr. Vivek Murthy, are key players in the new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention being launched by the White House on April 23.

Tandon is the Domestic Policy Advisor to US President Joe Biden and Dr. Murthy is the US Surgeon General.

The 2024 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, to be unveiled at a White House event later in the day, supports President Biden’s Unity Agenda priorities to tackle the mental health crisis and beat the overdose crisis, key pillars of the Biden-Harris Unity Agenda. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff would be attending the event.

“Improving the health and wellbeing of the American people is one of President Biden’s top priorities, and that includes doing everything we can to reduce suffering and prevent suicide,” Tanden said. “The Biden-Harris Administration has launched several efforts to tackle our mental health crisis and to beat the overdose epidemic. And today we are proud to launch a new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and Federal Action Plan,” she added.

Suicide is an urgent and growing public health crisis. More than 49,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2022. That’s one death every 11 minutes, according to a White House fact sheet. While there is no official figure, Indian Americans are also impacted by this increase in suicide death rates in the US.

During the event, senior administration officials will discuss the new strategy, which outlines concrete recommendations for addressing gaps and meeting the needs of at-risk and underserved populations. The strategy will be accompanied by the first-ever Federal Action Plan, which identifies more than 200 discrete actions that federal partners across the administration will initiate and evaluate over the next three years, a senior administration official said.

Actions include identifying ways to address substance use and suicide risk together in the clinical setting, funding a mobile crisis locator for use by 988 crisis centers, increasing support for survivors of suicide loss and others whose lives have been impacted by suicide, and evaluating promising community-based suicide prevention strategies.

“And for the first time, the nation’s suicide prevention strategy will include a pillar prioritizing equity, an essential requirement to meet the specific and urgent need to address populations disproportionately impacted by suicide throughout the full continuum of care,” a senior administration official said.

Suicide is a complex public health problem, tragically impacting our friends, family members, neighbors and community members nationwide, said US Secretary for Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has consistently prioritized the health and well-being of Americans and this strategy—and the unprecedented interagency coordination demonstrated in the federal action plan—commits to the American people that we are here for you,” he asserted.

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