Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with National Suicide Prevention Week taking place from September 9th-15th.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and is preventable through increased mental health awareness and mental health treatment. How can you help?

Be aware of the risk factors of suicide. Suicide can seem unfathomable to people who have never experienced depression, and it is a common misconception that suicide is the result of any one negative event in a person’s life. In reality, a person may feel that they have no other choice than to commit suicide when they are struggling with multiple risk factors without support. These suicide risk factors include:

  • Suffering from depression or other mental health conditions
  • Chronic physical illnesses
  • Personal or family history of suicide/suicide attempts
  • Prolonged exposure to trauma or abuse
  • Recent loss of employment or family member
  • Misuse of alcohol and drugs

Recognize the warning signs of suicide. If you or a loved one have been living with depression or any other mental illness, it is important to look for the following warning signs, which may signal that a person is seriously contemplating taking their own life:

  • Substance abuse or other self-destructive behaviors
  • Evidence of previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Expressing hopelessness when talking about the future
  • Anger and/or anxiety
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Noticeable mood changes
  • Giving away of possessions
  • Saying goodbye
  • Unexplained calmness after displaying the above characteristics

Get involved. Community events are one of the best ways of reducing the stigma behind mental illness and helping create a culture where people won’t be ashamed to seek help for themselves. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Local chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hold walks to raise funds for mental illness resources and education. Click here to find a NAMIWalk in your area.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) holds Out of the Darkness walks for suicide prevention and awareness, along with other events. Click here to find events near you.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, any mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, don’t be scared or embarrassed to reach out for support and treatment. Tell someone you trust—your partner, your parent, a friend or sibling—and let them know that you need help. To speak with a trained and confidential crisis counselor about yourself or someone you’re concerned about, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. If you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself, call 911.