National Suicide Prevention Month is observed throughout the month of September, and this week is Suicide Prevention Week. Every year, approximately 44,000 Americans die by suicide, meaning there are about 120 suicides every day.1 Just last year, it was reported that suicide rates in the U.S. had reached a 30-year high.2
There are many ways that you can help spread awareness and prevent suicide.
What to look for
• 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
How to help
You may have mixed feelings about approaching someone about your concern for them, but this is when they need you to talk to them more than ever. Let them know that you’ve noticed their behavior and that you would like to know how they’ve been feeling. After this, the most important thing to do is listen to them. If they say something that makes you worry, do not leave them alone. You will need to convince them to get help, tell someone who may be able to help them, have them call a suicide crisis line, and/or call 911. Make sure to remain supportive of them in any of these situations and afterwards.
For National Suicide Prevention Month there are many things you can do to spread awareness and get involved. It could be as simple as sharing suicide statistics with people you know. There are also hashtags you can use on social media, such as #StopSuicide and #BeThe1To, that help spread awareness. There will also be many events surrounding the observance, such as the American Federation of Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walks. Make sure to check out what is going on around you and find even more ways to get involved.
If you would like to learn more about what to look for and how you can help someone in need, please visit National Institute of Mental Health’s resources on suicide prevention. HelpGuide.org also provides a very detailed article on what you can do in this situation.
If you or somebody you know needs immediate help, please call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.