Suicide Prevention Month

Preventing Suicide is a Public Health Effort

Suicide is a major public health problem that is amongst the leading causes of death in the United States. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. With the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and ongoing issues of racial injustice causing major psychological impacts across the country, we may see elevated suicide rates.

To reduce the potential for suicide during these crises, it is crucial to decrease stress, anxiety, fears and loneliness. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background, so knowing the warning signs and what resources are available can help save lives.

During the month of September, the American Counseling Association will be dedicated to raising awareness of suicide and advocating the prevention of this public health crisis. We are committed to shedding light on this largely stigmatized and difficult topic by providing resources to inform and educate professionals and the community on how to identify warning signs, take action, and significantly reduce the number of deaths by suicide.

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)

Together, we can help prevent suicide

Click the images below to take the pledge and to join the panel.

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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

  • Online Learning

  • Practice Briefs

  • Books