Establish near real-time data collection systems to promptly identify changes in rate of suicide, overdose, and other key events, and of clusters or spikes in these outcomes.

We must establish access to near real-time data on mental health and suicide to better identify, intervene, and mitigate suicide and suicidal distress. Just as real-time data is made available regarding COVID-19 infections and deaths, we need near real-time data to address the mental health and suicide-related impacts of the pandemic.

Dr. Rajeev Ramchand

Priority 4 Calls to Action

  • We call on federal, state, and local policymakers to increase funding for the public health data infrastructure at the federal, state, territorial, and local levels, including supporting funding for medical examiner and coroner offices, expanding the scope and improving the quality of data collection and processing systems, improving interoperability, and expanding access to data for public health monitoring and clinical quality improvement purposes.
  • We call on government, philanthropic, and private grant-makers to fund research on how to produce more timely assessments of non-fatal and fatal suicide-related events.
  • We call on public and commercial health systems and health plans to track and report survival as a patient-centered outcome for individuals with mental health and substance use issues, and in relation to key index events such as emergency department presentation for suicidality or overdose, and discharge from inpatient mental health and substance use treatment, consistent with a recommendation originally made by the federal Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee.
  • We call on federal policymakers to mandate universal documentation of external cause of injury (e.g., deliberate self-harm, accident, assault) for all emergency department visits and hospitalizations involving injury.
  • We call on federal, state, and local parties responsible for conducting death investigations and those responsible for collecting data on non-fatal suicide-related events to enhance the scope of the data they collect to include demographic information on sexual orientation, gender identity, and military/veteran status and to improve the quality of data they collect on race and occupation/industry.
  • We call on the Action Alliance (or a suitable entity that they identify) to create and maintain a National Response data dashboard that pulls together timely data feeds from relevant existing sources on fatal and non-fatal suicide events and related measures.


Priority 4 Work Group

Priority 4 is one of six strategic imperatives the National Response has identified to help transform mental health and suicide prevention nationwide in the wake of the pandemic and beyond.

The co-leaders of the multi-sector Priority 4 Work Group are:

  • Dr. Richard McKeon, Chief Suicide Prevention Branch, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Rajeev Ramchand, Senior Behavioral Scientist, RAND Corporation

Please visit this page often for progress updates and for information on how you can get involved.

Priority 4 Specific Resources

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