Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Mental health ‘the health crisis of our time’


According to NBC News, “more than 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2023, more than any year on record.” That is a death approximately every 10 minutes. I know firsthand what suicide looks like; it is not glamorous, or poetic. It’s just sad. If we had better screening tools in place, maybe some of them could have been saved.

I am a big proponent of mental health screenings. The Surgeon General calls mental health “the defining health crisis of our time.” Mental illness does not discriminate. Suicide doesn’t discern between race, income, profession, or age. Every demographic group is vulnerable. Here’s some shocking numbers: 12.3 million adults thought about suicide, 3.5 million adults made a plan, and 1.7 million adults attempted suicide. In 2021, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 20-34.

Most people who commit suicide have seen a doctor shortly before they died. “In February 2016, the Joint Commission…. issued a Sentinel Event Alert recommending that all medical patients in all medical settings…be screened for suicide risk”. Yet, this still is not happening. We have to reach more of these people. We need to start asking the tough questions. The Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) tool is a brief screen of 4 questions for use among both youth and adults. “Using an evidence-based clinical pathway can guide the process of identifying patients at risk and managing those who screen positive.” Anybody who screens positive should then be given the Brief Suicide Safety Assessment (BSSA) by a qualified clinician to see if a more thorough mental health assessment is necessary. For information on how to prevent suicide visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For information or to get the ASQ toolkit (which is specific to the setting where it is being used) visit the ASQ website.



Cedars-Sinai (2023, September 28). World Suicide Prevention Day 2023. World Suicide Prevention Day 2023.

Center for Disease Control. (2023, May 9). Disparities in Suicide | CDC.

NAMI California. (n.d.). What You Can Do to Prevent Suicide: Warning Signs, Risk Factors, Support in a Crisis. NAMI California.

Welker, K. (2023, December 23). More than 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2023 — more than any year on record. NBC News.


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