By Lacey Thompson, Behavioral Health Program Director

September often marks the winding down of summer, back to school and the beginning of a new routine. September is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This month is a great time to rise awareness on such a stigmatized topic. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. Suicidal ideations are often a result of an untread mental health condition, such as depression.

National Suicide Prevention Week begins on Sunday, September 5, 2021 and ends on Saturday September 11, 2021. This is a time to share resources, stories, and promote suicide prevention awareness.

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, 2021. On this day we remember those affected by suicide, while focusing resources and treatment to those who need it the most.

Recent statistics:

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States.

46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition, while 90% of people who die by suicide experienced symptoms of a mental heath condition.

American India/Alaska Native youth have some of the highest rates of suicide in the United States as they are 60% more likely to feel high levels of hopelessness

LGBTQI+ youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth

Common Myths:

“Talking about suicide or asking someone if they are suicidal will encourage them to attempt.”

FACT: those who openly talk about suicidal feelings are less likely to attempt and more likely to seek help.

“People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention”

FACT: All suicidal ideations must be taken seriously. It is likely a cry for help and the attention they get may save their life.

“Suicide attempts or deaths happen without warning.”

FACT: Often there are warning signs that someone is contemplating suicide.

Warning signs include:

  • Preoccupation with themes of death or expressing suicidal thoughts.
  • Depression, conduct disorder and problems with adjustment such as substance abuse.
  • Giving away prized possessions/ making a will or other final arrangements.
  • Major changes in sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep.
  • Withdrawal from friends/ family or other major behavioral changes.
  • Frequent irritability or unexplained crying.
  • Lingering expressions of unworthiness or failure.
  • Lack of interest in the future.
  • A sudden lifting of spirits, after showing signs above, that may point to a decision to end the pain of life through suicide.

If you know someone who is suicidal, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)

Although the topic of suicide can be scary and uncomfortable, showing support by empathetic conversation and seeking help for a loved one could save their life.