September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month
The effects of suicide are not limited to those who die. Suicide is a serious public health problem that has shattered the lives of millions of individuals, families, and communities nationwide. We can all act to reduce its toll. Suicide is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in our nation. In 2016, suicide was the second leading cause of death or those aged 10 - 34 in the U.S. and the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or background and, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. We can work to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope. #BeThe1To helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide.
Did you know the average age of onset for many mental health conditions is the typical college age range of 18 - 24 years old? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 75 percent of all individuals with an anxiety disorder will experience symptoms before age 22. Other young adults, who might not have clinical anxiety or depression, still suffer. Suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition and for most individuals, stigma remains the most significant barrier to seeking treatment. Mental Health First Aid's PSA "Said No Teen Ever" highlights this issue. Suicide is not inevitable, and everyone has a role in preventing suicide. Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can take to help others.
If you suspect that an individual is considering suicide, contact:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans.
- More than 44,000 people died by suicide in 2016.
- More than 1.4 million people reported making a suicide attempt in the past year.
- Almost 10 million adults reported thinking about suicide in the past year.
- Most people who engage in suicidal behavior never seek mental health services.
- Suicide is a serious global public health problem. More than 800,000 people worldwide die from suicide every year.
Know the Risk Factors
Although suicide can affect anyone, the following populations are known to have an increased risk for suicidal behaviors:
- Individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders and individuals with medical conditions
- Individuals bereaved by others’ suicide
- Individuals in justice and child welfare settings
- Individuals who engage in nonsuicidal self-injury and those who have attempted suicide
- Individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT)
- Men in midlife and older men
Warning Signs of Suicidal Behaviors
You can play a role in preventing suicide by being aware of the warning signs of suicidal behaviors:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves; feeling hopeless, trapped, or in unbearable pain; being a burden to others
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
What You Can Do
If you believe someone is at risk of suicide:
- Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. (This will not put the idea into their heads, or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.) Take seriously all suicide threats and all suicide attempts. A history of suicide attempts is one of the strongest risk factors.
- Keep Them Safe – Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; if possible do not leave the person alone.
- Be There – Listen without judgement and with compassion and empathy.
- Help Them Connect – Help them connect to a support system – family, friends, clergy, coaches, coworkers, therapists; or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Follow Up – Make contact in the days and weeks after a crisis. Check-in regularly.
Responding to Netflix's 13 Reasons Why Series
- Watch Dr. Chris Thurber address 13 Things Adults Should Know About 13 Reasons Why
- 13 Things Adults Should Know About 13 Reasons Why by Dr. Chris Thurber (PDF)
- Assessing Suicidality (PDF)
Suicide Prevention Resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Learn more.
National Institute of Mental Health
Resources for you if you know someone in crisis. Learn more.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Resource center devoted to advancing the national strategy for suicide prevention. SPRC is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under grant no. 1U79SM062297 and is located at Education Development Center, Inc. Learn more.
Crisis Text Line
Free 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained crisis counselor. Learn more.
The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program (SOS) offers a 90-minute online course for non-mental-health professionals and unlicensed counselors. The course is called Plan, Prepare, Prevent: The SOS Signs of Suicide®. Learn More.
JED Foundation – Get Help Now
JED’s Mental Health Resource Center provides essential information about common emotional health issues and shows teens and young adults how they can support one another, overcome challenges, and make a successful transition to adulthood. Learn more.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Support
Dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: (1) Funding research, (2) Educating the public, (3) Advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, (4) Supporting survivors. Learn more.
The Trevor Project
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, this project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13 to 24. Learn more.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Provides hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders. Learn more.
A nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage others to seek help. Information, leadership opportunities, and advocacy training to the next generation. Learn more.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Find Help
A guide to the treatment of anxiety, depression, OCD, and PTSD; resources for support; and tips for helping friends and relatives. Learn more.
APA American Psychological Association – Help Center
An online consumer resource featuring information related to psychological issues affecting your daily physical and emotional well-being. Refer to our fact sheet series to learn how psychologists can help. Learn more.
ANAD – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders – Get help
Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders resource page. Learn more.
Mental Health America – Finding Help
Mental Health America resource page. Learn more.
To Write Love on Her Arms
A nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Find resources by state.
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services – Suicide Prevention Center
Includes Spanish and Vietnamese assistance. Learn more.