Can We Leverage Our Tools to Save Lives?

Can We Leverage Our Tools to Save Lives?

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Nearly 10 million suicidal actions are taken per year around the world, resulting in roughly 800,000 deaths. The numbers vary dramatically by country and by demographic characteristics. The rates over time change much more rapidly than do most medical causes of death, for better or worse. These large differences indicate that suicide may be one cause of death that could readily benefit from intervention strategies.

The insurance industry has a unique combination of resources and skilled personnel that could potentially be leveraged to mitigate this global epidemic. Opportunities abound, but an important obstacle stands in the way: data regulations.

Regulations serve as critical safeguards that prevent unscrupulous actors from taking advantage of consumers, but they also limit the ways companies might take action to help public health and safety. However, a rare benefit coming from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the relaxing of certain regulatory restrictions around data in the service of potentially improving health outcomes and saving lives. If regulators have been more flexible for COVID-19, they might also be persuaded regarding suicide.

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