Our nation has experienced a series of unprecedented disasters in recent weeks, including three major hurricanes and a horrific attack that occurred in Las Vegas last Sunday night. In the midst of these great dangers, we repeatedly observe heroism and courage as our fellow Americans provided care and assisted others to safety. We recognize and honor those who have been impacted directly, their families and friends, and the heroic first responders and good samaritans who risked their lives to save others. Our SAMHSA staff also have families who have been impacted. We mourn the loss of innocent lives and the terrible injuries sustained by many others.The pain and devastation of these experiences are felt by so many of us and our fellow citizens as we all seek to recover. We at SAMHSA
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It is one thing to hear in the abstract that America suffers from a stubbornly high rate of suicide and suicide attempts. But when it hits home—as it did for me years ago when a young neighbor, struggling with serious mental illness, died from suicide—we realize we have to ask some tough questions.
What could we possibly do to stop someone from taking his or her life? What are we failing to do for our neighbors and family members struggling with substance abuse or serious mental illness? What can we do to address the fact that this problem is especially acute among those whom we owe the most, our veterans? How can we fail to see when a loved one or neighbor is struggling?
Each new school year brings a mixture of emotions for students, whether they are heading off to pre-school through post-graduate studies. They may mourn the end of summer but look forward to seeing friends. They may be excited about new challenges but worry about academic pressure and peer pressure. As developing minds process these emotions, they often complicate emerging or ongoing behavioral health issues. Given that one-half of mental illnesses begin before age 14 and three quarters before age 25, it is critical, therefore, for students to have access to high-quality behavioral health services.