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Suicides in 2007 projected to cost $48 billion in 2012 dollars.


BALTIMORE--The 35,000 American suicides that occurred in 2007 as well as attempted suicides that year cost the United States a total of roughly $48 billion in direct and indirect expenses.

This economic impact highlights the potential financial benefit from allocating additional resources toward suicide prevention, Donald S. Shepard, Ph.D., said at the meeting.

"Investment in additional medical and counseling services would be relatively inexpensive and would likely reduce these national costs. It would pay for itself in economic terms, and it would also pay for itself many times 'over in human terms," said Dr. Shepard, a health economist and professor of health policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Dr. Shepard identified three primary opportunities for suicide prevention that he derived from the analysis:

* Strengthen the capacity of emergency departments to identify patients at risk.

* Strengthen the availability of community-based providers to treat patients at risk.

* Strengthen the linkage between acute care and community-based behavioral-health delivery systems to ensure continuity of care.

To make their cost estimate, Dr. Shepard and his associates began with the 34,598 U.S. suicides in 2007, the most recent year with complete data available at the time they began their analysis, as well as nonfatal attempted suicides that year.

They identified the total direct medical costs for the fatal and nonfatal self-inflicted injuries as $1.3 billion, calculated in 2012 dollars and adjusted to 2012 medical costs. They then added to this their calculated $46.3 billion in indirect costs, primarily from the fatal suicide attempts, a figure that primarily derives from lost future productivity, especially lost wages. The total cost added up to $47.6 billion projected for 2012, with 83% accounted for by men and 17% by women.

This estimate is conservative, because the number of completed suicides and nonfatal attempts has risen since 2007, Dr. Shepard said.


Major Finding: A projection pegged the direct and indirect costs of 2012 U.S. suicides at a total of $47.6 billion.

Data Source: Data came from projections and estimates based on the 2007 U.S. rates of attempted and completed suicides.

Disclosures: Dr. Shepard said he had no relevant financial disclosures.
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Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Date:Aug 1, 2012
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