Suicide Prevention Month

SUICIDE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION

While suicide is often associated with feelings of loneliness and isolation, it is a shared and far-reaching public health problem. As the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2019, suicide affects all ages and types of people. But thanks to an increase in awareness and resources, prevention efforts have become more common and effective.

Despite outdated misperceptions, suicide is neither a personal failure nor the evidence of mental illness, but rather a common human response to difficult environmental factors and emotional pain. Improving life circumstances, enhancing social connection and reducing emotional pain are the most effective ways to reduce the frequency and intensity of suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Mental health organizations around the country recognize National Suicide Prevention Week and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month during the month of September each year. However, working together to develop our collective understanding and awareness of suicide in order to prevent it is something we need to be doing every day. Talking to a counselor about any questions you have about how to help support others or how to get help for yourself is a great place to start.

Prevention Matters

Suicide affects all ages and groups. In addition to the number of people who are injured or die, suicide also affects the health of others and the community. When people die by suicide, their family and friends can experience shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Below are groups with higher rates of suicide than others.

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  • Veterans - The suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times higher than that of the general population. About 20 veterans commit suicide a day, and nearly three quarters are not under VA care. (Source)
  • Teens and Young Adults - Young adults are vulnerable to suicide in part because they tend to experiment with alcohol and drugs, which are often involved in suicides. They tend to be more impulsive and prone to risky behavior than older adults, and they often are dealing with the stress of major life changes as they assume adult roles. (M. Jane Park et al., “The Health Status of Young Adults in the United States,” Journal of Adolescent Health 39 (2006): 305-17.)
  • Adults over 45 - Many elderly have undiagnosed or untreated depression, which can be intensified by the trauma of losing a spouse or the stress of living with a chronic illness. Elderly adults often lack frequent social interactions that can help protect them against the loneliness that can exacerbate depression. (Source)
  • Suicide Attempters - Alcohol use, personality disorders, and younger age are risk factors for re-attempting. Additionally, 5% to 11% of hospital-treated attempters do go on to complete suicide, a far higher proportion than among the general public where annual suicide rates are about 1 in 10,000. (Source)
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives - The overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Native adults is about 20 percent higher as compared to the non-Hispanic white population.
    • Adolescent American Indian/Alaska Native females, ages 15-19, have a death rate that is three times higher than for non-Hispanic white females in the same age groups. (Source)
  • Sexual Minority Youth - Sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals) experience increased suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their non-sexual minority peers. (Source)

Crisis Center Information

If you need help, or know someone who does, the following resources are available:

  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press Option 1
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada)
    The Trans Lifeline’s Hotline is a peer-support service for trans and questioning individuals in crisis. All operators are trans-identified.
  • Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
    The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people under 25.
  • TrevorText
    A free, confidential, secure service in which LGBTQ young people can text a trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention, available Monday–Friday from 3–10pm ET / Noon–7pm PT by texting START to 678678.
  • Crisis Text Line
    Crisis Text Line is a crisis-intervention hotline that conducts conversations exclusively by text message. Trained crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day.
  • CrisisNOW
    CrisisNOW provides a roadmap to safe, effective crisis care. Their goal is to keep people out of emergency rooms or jails by providing targeted services for people in distress.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline
    SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
  • Mental Health - Warm Lines
    Warm lines are confidential, peer-run listening lines staffed by people who have experienced mental health conditions themselves.

If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.

Suicide Prevention Month Additional Resources