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09/22/2022

CVS Health reports progress against goal to reduce suicide attempts among Aetna members

CVS Health has seen a 15.7% reduction in suicide attempts among Aetna members through March 2022 compared to 2019 baselines.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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CVS Health has reached a milestone in its progress against the goal set last year of reducing Aetna member suicide attempts 20% by 2025.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. It does not have to be. Nearly all people (90%) who die by suicide have an underlying, and potentially treatable, mental health condition, CVS Health said.

[Read more: Breaking down barriers: Retail pharmacy is becoming a force in an unexpected area — providing mental health services] 

In 2017, Aetna, a CVS Health company, initiated its support for the American Foundation for Suicide Preventions goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by the year 2025, as part of AFSPs Project 2025 initiative. Inspired by this initiative, CVS Health launched its own goal to reduce suicide attempts 20% among Aetna members by the year 2025:

  • Overall trend: CVS Health has seen a 15.7% reduction in suicide attempts among Aetna members through March 2022 compared to 2019 baselines.
  • Aetna members ages 18 years old and older: 17.5% decrease in suicide attempts in 2021 and a 34.1% decrease through March 2022 compared to the same 2019 baselines.
  • Aetna members ages 13 to 17 years old: 43% increase in suicide attempts in 2021 and 32% increase through March 2022 compared to the same 2019 baselines.

While CVS Health has made significant progress in adult Aetna members (age 18 years old and older), improvement is still needed among adolescents (age 13 to 17 years old). Earlier this year, three of the nation's top pediatric healthcare organizations declared a National State of Emergency in children's mental health, demonstrating the immediate need to address youth mental health.

[Read more: CVS Heath's Aetna enters insurance exchange marketplace in 12 states] 

Our members are not immune to the national suicide crisis reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though we are on track lowering suicide attempts in adults, our goal will not be reached until we can say the same for adolescents, said Sree Chaguturu, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Health.

We are doubling down on efforts to prevent suicide in teens by identifying those most at-risk and in need of intervention, reaching out to those discharged from the ER after a suicide attempt with resources and supporting parents and loved ones in prioritizing the mental health of their kids,” Chaguturu said.

To achieve its goal, CVS Health is focused on expanded resources and outreach to adolescents, including:

  • Aetnas Adolescent Outreach Program uses self-harm risk modeling to proactively support families with children at the highest risk of suicide attempt;
  • Aetnas partnership with Vita Health and Oui Therapeutics provides access to Youth Nominated Support Teams and clinical outpatient programs with evidence-based therapies and interventions;
  • Aetnas Caring Contacts program reaches out to adolescent members with comfort items after they are discharged from inpatient or emergency department care for suicide ideation or attempts to let them know they are valued and that support is available to them; and
  • Aetna also continues to work directly with healthcare providers to ensure they have the education and resources to identify and treat adolescents and young adults at risk of suicide.

[Read more: Teenagers approach educators with mental health concerns more than parents]

We are implementing evidence-based therapies and outreach programs to prevent suicidal ideation before it starts and get adolescents the clinical care they need when they are at risk, said Cara McNulty, president of behavioral health and mental well-being at CVS Health. Every suicide attempt prevented, life saved and mental health resource sought is an important step to reducing death by suicide in the United States.

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