North Carolina, like many other states, has embarked on an initiative to prevent suicide.  Such efforts nationally have been promoted since the Surgeon General’s “Call to Action,” released in 1999, and the subsequent publication of the first National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (“NSSP 1.0″) two years later.  The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention promulgated the second national strategy (“NSSP 2.0”) in September 2012.

Despite these efforts, suicide in the United States has risen steadily since 1999, a pattern closely matched in North Carolina, where there were 16,305 suicides from 1999-2013.  At this time we need to consider together how best to develop collective, community based programs that deal with both individual and contextual factors that contribute to suicide.  These are built upon an understanding the social geography of communities, identifying where we can engage distinct populations, and the social ecology of groups bearing specific risks.  Together these efforts form the basis for public health approaches aimed at preventing these premature deaths.

If we fail to implement comprehensive initiatives that form a mosaic of prevention, understanding that no one piece will serve all needs, it is likely that our efforts will not succeed.  However, there now is a substantial amount known about the social and individual factors that contribute to suicide, such that we can win this battle if there is sufficient leadership, commitment, and political will.


Eric Caine, MD, is the Director of the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and one of the nation’s foremost researchers in the field of risk factors for suicide and ways to prevent suicide. The Rochester ICRC-S is a CDC-funded injury center dedicated to suicide prevention. He has served during the past decade as an expert consultant to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and the Veterans Administration Blue Ribbon Panel on Suicide Prevention. Most recently, he has been a member of a federal task force charged with re-drafting the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

With his colleagues in Rochester, the U.S., and internationally, Caine has investigated factors that contribute to suicide, with a recent focus on links to unemployment, the choice of specific methods, and the burdens of suicide and attempted suicide during young and middle adulthood. Much of his current work has addressed public health approaches to prevention that complement individually oriented treatments. He has been the principal investigator of multiple NIH research and training grants related to suicide research and prevention, and since 2001 has led a series of collaborative initiatives in China that deal directly with suicide prevention, the delivery of mental health services in developing countries, and the potential for public health approaches to reduce injuries and prevent premature deaths.

When:  Monday, April 13, 2015.   1:00 with reception to follow.

Where:  George Watts Hill Alumni Center, UNC Chapel Hill Campus.

UPDATE: Thanks to all who attended! Dr. Caine’s full lecture video are now available!

Waller Lecture 2015 Video

Waller Lecture 2015 Slides