The entire month of September is Suicide Awareness Month, but did you know September 4-10th is a significant week known as Suicide Prevention Week? During this time, the prevention of what the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) identified as the twelfth leading cause of death in 2020 will be addressed (NIMH, 2022). Although suicide is most prevalent in men of color, it affects individuals regardless of their identity (NIMH, 2022). As a helping professional in training, I would like to take the time to describe possible prevention strategies we can take to decrease the possibility of suicide in our society.
On the individual level, becoming educated about the statistics of suicide and deciding to become an advocate for people struggling with their mental health are ways to improve the impact of suicide prevention. Learning that “although more women attempt suicide than men, men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide” and that suicide is the “2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and 3rd leading among people aged 15-24 in the US” could help you to share the significance of this issue (National Alliance on Mental Health, 2022). Gaining such information and sharing it with others can express a higher level of compassion and caring which can make a huge difference to someone in need.
Of course, there are steps that individuals can take to prevent suicide, but this issue also happens to be influenced by factors outside of an individual’s control. People of color, men, and marginalized people have higher risks of suicide due to the limited resources provided by systems currently put in place. Things like economic support, better access to mental health care, and the creation of protective environments are some ways community members can provide assistance to those in need (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Because 57.9% of male suicide deaths in 2020 were caused by firearms, taking steps for stricter gun laws and reform could assist in decreasing this number, too (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).
Mental health organizations have taken actions to limit these events as well. Help hotlines like the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline have been made readily available for individuals seeking help. This service has also created a website to help people contact professionals and resources for specific issues they may be facing.
Suicide is a devastating event that affects thousands each year! Becoming more aware of the statistics and ways to help, can make a difference for individuals, families, and communities all over the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Suicide Prevention: Prevention strategies. Retrieved on September 3, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/prevention/index.html
National Alliance on Mental Illness. 2022. Suicide prevention awareness month (SPAM). Retrieved on September 3, 2022 from https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month-(SPAM)
National Institute of Mental Health. 2022. Suicide. Retrieved on September 3, 2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide#part_2557