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  • Comment: Educating Society about the Prevalence of Suicide and Mental Illness to Stimulate Broader Mental Health Care Reform

    This article will use the recent discovery of biomarkers that can potentially detect suicide risk as a catalyst to discuss how this type of development in the detection of mental illness can revolutionize mental health care if used in collaboration with other changes in mental health treatment. First, this article discusses the importance of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide. Second, it explains how suicide biomarkers were identified and how such a finding can profoundly impact the traditional understanding and approach to suicide identification and treatment. Third, it analyzes how to use suicide biomarker screening to identify individuals who may be at risk of committing or attempting suicide. Fourth, the focus of this article shifts to the particularly high suicide risk among teenagers, which leads into a discussion about how to develop and implement a constitutionally valid suicide biomarker screening program through the public school system. Finally, this article emphasizes the need to develop new treatment programs that can be used in collaboration with genetic testing methods, including suicide biomarker screening; such programs will be critical in actually reducing the stigma and improving the treatment of mental illnesses. Hopefully, these combined efforts to reform mental health care will enhance members of the general public’s ability to identify individuals who may benefit from treatment, and encourage more people to acknowledge their own risk and to pursue newly enhanced treatment options.

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