June 4, 1985
By the President of the United States of America
During the past 20 years, the suicide rate has tripled among young people aged 15 - 24. In fact, suicide has become the third leading cause of death in this age group. Last year alone, over 5,000 young Americans took their own lives, and many more attempted to do so.
When a young person commits suicide, it is a personal tragedy as well as a source of deep anguish for family, friends, and neighbors. But it is also a tragedy for society, which must cope not only with the loss of human potential that is the result of the death of any individual, but also with its responsibility to identify the causes of suicide and develop strategies to reduce its incidence. Although the issues involved in each case are complex and unique, we can draw encouragement from the fact that suicide is no longer a silent subject but a recognized public health problem that can and must be addressed.
Because the root causes of suicide involve so many different psychological, physical, social, and spiritual dimensions, successful preventive action requires the combined efforts of individuals, families, communities, organizations, and governments at all levels. Young people and families who have a member who may be contemplating suicide need to know that there are indeed places to turn for advice and assistance. People who come into contact with youth -- educators, counselors, coaches, ministers, health care providers -- can play a key role in helping a despondent young person by identifying the existence of a problem or contributing factors like drug abuse and family break-up. Government can assist through research and policies which strengthen the family unit and foster a sense of individual self-worth. In short, all of us have the opportunity and responsibility to help deal with this growing problem.
In recognition of the increase in suicide among America's youth and its consequences for our society, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 53, has designated the month of June 1985 as ``Youth Suicide Prevention Month'' and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of June 1985 as Youth Suicide Prevention Month. I call upon the Governors of the several States, the chief officials of local governments, all health care providers, educators, the media, public and private organizations, and the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:59 a.m., June 5, 1985]
Note: The proclamation was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 5.