Year: 2013 Source: Health Economics.(2013).22(1):73-88.doi: 10.1002/hec.1816 SIEC No: 20130022

In the 1990s and early 2000s a number of states passed laws requiring mental health benefits to be included in health insurance coverage. The variation in the characteristics and enactment date of the laws provides an opportunity to measure the impact of increasing access to mental health care on mental health outcomes, as evidenced by state suicide rates. In contrast with previous research, results show that when states enact laws requiring insurance coverage to include mental health benefits at parity with physical health benefits, the suicide rate decreases significantly by five percent. The findings are robust to a number of specifications and falsification tests.