Media Advisory: NIMH Researchers Available to Discuss Suicide Prevention
• Media Advisory
Suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States and in 2018, it was the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable.
Each September, people in the U.S. and around the world observe National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to help raise awareness and share information about this important public health concern. Slow but steady increases in the U.S. suicide rate was a concern before the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the country weathers this difficult time, suicide remains a concern.
Experts from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are available to speak with reporters and members of the media on topics related to suicide and suicide prevention, including the warning signs of suicide, suicide prevention methods, trends in suicide rates, how to find mental health help and support, and the latest in suicide prevention research.
- Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
Dr. Gordon has combined expertise in psychiatry and neuroscience, having practiced as a licensed psychiatrist while maintaining a robust research program. As director of NIMH, Dr. Gordon oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and clinical research that seeks to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses. During his time as Director, he has made suicide prevention a priority area of action for the institute. Dr. Gordon also serves as the public sector chair for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s National Response to COVID-19. His own research focuses on understanding the genetic contributions and brain circuitry underlying mental illnesses. His work has direct relevance to disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
- Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Special Advisor to the NIMH Director on Suicide Research
Dr. Pearson is a widely recognized authority on suicide and suicide prevention with expertise in clinical psychology and public health strategies. She serves as the Special Advisor to the Director of NIMH on Suicide Research. She leads the NIMH Suicide Research Team and serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research Task Force. She assisted in the development of the first Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Suicide and the first U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Pearson is also an adjunct associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. She has practiced as a licensed clinical psychologist and has authored papers on the ethical and methodological challenges of suicide research.
- Stephen O’Connor, Ph.D., Chief of the Suicide Prevention Research Program in the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research
Dr. O'Connor manages a portfolio of grants that includes projects on youth and adult-related suicide risk detection and interventions to reduce suicide ideation, attempts, and deaths. Projects in his portfolio range from exploratory and feasibility studies to effectiveness research. Prior to joining the NIMH, Dr. O'Connor conducted research focused on early intervention for suicide attempt survivors in trauma centers; group-based treatment for suicidal Veterans; and other health services-oriented efforts to improve screening, assessment, and treatment of suicidal individuals in both traditional and non-traditional behavioral health settings. His research has been supported by the NIMH, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Military Suicide Research Consortium. He received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Catholic University of America.
- National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (September 2020)
- National Suicide Prevention Week (September 6-12, 2020)
- World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2020)
For interviews, photos, or additional background information, please contact the NIMH Press Office at 301-443-4536 or NIMHpress@nih.gov.
About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website.
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