by Sukhmeet Kaur
As we approach the end of September, I hope that you have come across suicide prevention awareness efforts and dialogues at work, school or within your social circle. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month in the United States. Although suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US (1), it is among the least spoken of illnesses.
This effort to educate and encourage the use of available resources for suicide prevention is much needed to break the stigma. CDC reported that 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide (1), so it is likely for either yourself or someone you know to have experienced suicidal thoughts. Since suicide is not spoken of regularly in schools, on the news, or on social media, it may not be as apparent of an issue in this country, but it is a silent killer. Per the American Association of Suicidology, 1 person every 10.9 minutes killed themselves (1 male every 13.9 minutes, 1 female 49.7 minutes) (2). When alarming statistics such as these are presented to people around the country, it allows for them to initiate a dialogue on the topic, open up about a personal experiences, and also serve as a motivation to be part of the change to prevent suicide.
One of the very first steps to be part of the change, is to acknowledge any limiting thoughts you may have about suicide. At times when topics make others uncomfortable, we may shy away from bringing them up. However, not speaking up about how you are feeling or the lack of knowledge of resources available to help yourself or someone else when having suicidal thoughts, can result serious consequences. If you or someone you know has had any such thoughts, it is even more essential to be aware of resources available to you easily. Here are some free resources that provide confidential, 24/7 support by phone: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Crisis Text Line text “HOME” to 741741 and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 800-950-NAMI or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741. These are a few among many resources available to all.
It is important to not only to learn essential information and participate in suicide prevention awareness efforts in September, but all year round. Here is a fact sheet from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center that lists various ways to participate in events, promote awareness online or in person and volunteer in several different settings to prevent suicide: LINK. Being part of the change is a much-needed effort from us all, let us stop the silent killer and speak up about our feelings and be part of the change.
1. https://www.datocms-assets.com/12810/1587128056-usfactsfiguresflyer-2.pdf CDC, 2018 Fatal Injury Reports (accessed from www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html on 3/1/20). Find additional citation information at afsp.org/statistics.
2. https://suicidology.org/facts-and-statistics American Association of Suicidology