American Association of Suicidology’s Statement on the Detrimental Effects of Administration’s Family Separation Policy

This Administration’s 'zero-tolerance' policy will have irreparable consequences on thousands of children and families for decades to come.””
— Colleen Creighton

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, June 20, 2018 / -- As the oldest membership-based suicide related organization in the United States, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is deeply concerned about the detrimental effects and long-term traumatic consequences of the current Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of forcibly separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

- Separation and isolation from one’s family increases the risk of suicide

- Separation from children, especially unexpected or through traumatic means, can increase the risk of suicide in parents

- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been shown to increase the risk of suicide throughout an individual’s lifespan

- Reports have surfaced that children in understaffed detention camps are attempting suicide with little to no access to mental healthcare or therapeutic support

Serious consequences of this new policy have become apparent as evidenced by at least one recent suicide of a parent in detainment and multiple reports of suicide attempts of adolescents in custody.

“As connectedness to family is a strong protective factor against the risk of suicide, this Administration’s 'zero-tolerance' policy will have irreparable consequences on thousands of children and families for decades to come,” said Colleen Creighton, Executive Director of AAS.

AAS strongly urges the Administration to re-evaluate and re-consider its current policy of forcibly separating children from their families at the US-Mexico border.

For the Media: Responsible reporting on suicide, including stories of hope and resilience, can prevent more suicides. Please visit the Reporting on Suicide guidelines for more information.

About AAS: Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Colleen Creighton
American Association of Suicidology
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