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NLN CEO Tapped by US Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense for New High-Profile National Initiative to Prevent Suicide

NLN CEO Tapped by US Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense for New High-Profile National Initiative to Prevent Suicide

Dr. Beverly Malone Joins National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention ASF (now Exponent Philanthropy)ounding Member and Member of Executive Committee


New York, NY — September 24, 2010 — It was the third leading cause of death among young people and the 10th leading cause of death among Americans overall in 2007, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For every person who committed suicide that year, an estimated 10 others attempted suicide.

In the United States, suicide claims more than 34,000 lives annually, the equivalent of 94 suicides per day; one suicide every 15 minutes. In the past year, 8.4 million adults aged 18 or older (3.7 percent of the adult population) had thought seriously about committing suicide, 2.3 million (1.0 percent) had made a suicide plan, and 1.1 million (0.5 percent) had attempted suicide. National concern continues to mount as suicide rises among members of the military, working aged adults, and young American Indians and Alaska Natives. There are also high rates of non-fatal suicide attempts in other groups, especially young Latinas and Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youths.

These troubling statistics have led the institute to conclude that "suicide is a major, preventable public health problem."

A National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, published in 2001 by the US Department of Health and Human Services and based on the Surgeon Generals 1999 Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, called for a private-public partnership to address this condition that so devastates families. Now, that goal has been realized, with the creation of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, an initiative that "envisions a nation free from the tragic experience of suicide." Announced at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on September 10 hosted by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki; and other high-ranking government officials, the launch was timed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.

Invited by Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Gates to join the alliance as a founding member, NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, attended last weeks press conference and the inaugural meeting that followed of the Executive Committee, an elite board on which Dr. Malone will also serve.

"I am honored to have been asked to participate in this comprehensive response to the prevention of suicide," stated Dr. Malone. "The community of nurse educators that the NLN represents has an important contribution to make to this national conversation, and I will be bringing that voice to the table."

Added NLN President Cathleen Shultz: "Dr. Malones presence on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention reflects the status of nurses as critical first-responders when the tragedy of suicide or attempted suicide strikes. Her participation also highlights Dr. Malones stature as a vocal advocate of universal access to quality health care, which must include adequate mental health care, particularly for societys most vulnerable — children and the elderly."

Dr. Malone is no stranger to either government affairs or to the field of mental health. Early in her career she was a psychiatric nurse, earning a masters in psychiatric nursing and a doctorate in clinical psychology. From 1996 to 2000, as president of the American Nurses Association, Dr. Malone acted as liaison between leaders and policymakers within the association, with government leaders, and throughout the health care field. Deputy assistant secretary of health and human services during the Clinton administration, she was also appointed to President Clintons Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry and the Health Care Quality Measurement and Reporting Committee; was a member of the US delegation to the World Health Assembly; and was a participant in the presidents roundtable on the Patients Bill of Rights. Representing nurses in a partnership to prevent medical errors, Dr. Malone served on the board of directors of the National Patient Safety Partnership, a collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Medical Association, and other national health care organizations. More recently, as NLN CEO, Dr. Malone has testified before Congress to advocate for increased public funding for nursing and nursing education workforce development.

The Action Alliance, which is being chaired by the Hon. Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and former United States senator from Oregon, and secretary of the Army, John McHugh, is a collection of national governmental and non-governmental organizations and mental health professionals. The group has been assembled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Suicide Prevention Resource Center, both agencies within the Department of Health & Human Services. Executive Committee members are distinguished national leaders who have been charged with providing strategic direction to the Action Alliance as it works to implement its goal to reduce the incidence of suicide in the United States.

"This alliance gives us an opportunity to engage every sector of society — public, private, and philanthropic," said Secretary Sebelius. "Now we will be able to work together more effectively than ever before to reach people at risk and help them stay safe."

Secretary Gates added, "As Secretary of Defense, my top institutional priority is taking care of those who have borne the burden and paid the price for protecting our nation, including doing everything possible to prevent military suicides. Its always a horrible tragedy to see a service member safely off of the battlefield only to lose them to this scourge — we can, must, and will do better."

The Action Alliance will begin its work with three definitive initial priorities:

  • Update and implement the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention
  • Raise public awareness
  • Focus on suicide prevention among high-risk sectors of society

Success of the Action Alliance will be measured in the near-term by changes in policies and practices and in the longer-term by fewer attempted and completed suicides; the Action Alliance will suggest course corrections as necessary.

Editors/Reporters: For interview opportunities, please contact Karen R. Klestzick, NLN chief communications officer, at 212-812-0376 or

For further information about the Action Alliance, visit

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers faculty development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 32,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members who represent all types of nursing education programs.