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The New Epidemic: Death by Suicide


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What is psychiatry’s biggest killer? According to the new director of the Institute of Mental Health, Joshua A. Gordon, suicide prevention is a key priority. “Over 40,000 individuals died by suicide in 2014,” Gordon said. “Tragically, 425 of these were pre-teens and young teenagers; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  recently reported that death by suicide has now exceeded death by motor vehicle accidents for U.S. children aged 10-14 years for the first time in history. The reduction in automobile accidents is due, in large part, to successful prevention efforts, like improved structural design and additional safety features. I believe the time is right for a similar push for suicide prevention.”

Gordon has structured his goal of reducing suicide around statistical data to 1) identify at-risk individuals in healthcare, correctional, and military settings, 2) reduce access to lethal means in at-risk individuals, and 3) test various prevention strategies. To this end the NIMH is paying close attention to, and collaborating in, various research projects across the country. Gordon hopes that these efforts in both the public and private sectors (Veterans Affairs, the Justice Department, Independent Research Organizations, etc.) will guide the way towards implementation strategies with the potential to have a major public health impact.

One strategy that could be implemented is addressing the known brain chemistry around depression. It is a common understanding that the neurotransmitter serotonin is central to depressed mood in many cases. However, taking medications such as SSRI’s over time has been associated with increased suicide rates in children and adolescents.[i] Urinary testing for neurotransmitter imbalances can reveal the extent of such imbalances. This allows for appropriate intervention using amino acid precursor loading. Taking a more “natural” approach by augmenting serotonin stores using the amino acid building blocks may prove safer and more efficacious in the long run.

“We now have a chance to bend the curve on suicide rates, to save the lives of thousands of individuals caught in the throes of psychiatry’s biggest killer, “Gordon continued. “We owe it to them to give it our best effort.”

Read more of Gordon’s letter here:

“If you or a loved one suffers from depression or has suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 and seek immediate medical attention. If you’d like to learn more about the root causes of your depression and assess your levels of serotonin, go to to find a practitioner in your area who is a Sanesco healthcare provider.



[i] Sharma T, Guski LS, Freund N, et al. (2016). Suicidality and aggression during antidepressant treatment: systematic review and meta-analyses based on clinical study reports. BMJ. Jan 27;352:i65.


Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard graduated with honors from the University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. She also holds a Standard Designated Teaching Credential from the State of California, is a California state-certified Nutrition Consultant and a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Ramona has participated in nutrition education in both public and private venues, including high school and college presentations, radio and public speaking for the past 20 years. She is the owner of Radiance, a nutrition consulting company, the Director of Education for Sanesco International, and a medical technical writer.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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