Taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life.
Individuals who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others can be important, and many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention and have informed resources which are now readily available.
People are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It is important to remember, there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a tragedy.
Another factor that prevents individuals from intervening is the worry of making the situation worse. This hesitance is understandable as suicide is a difficult issue to address,
accompanied by a myth that suggests talking about it may instigate vulnerable individuals to contemplate the idea or trigger the act.
Evidence suggests that this is not the case. The offer of support and a listening ear are more likely to reduce distress, as opposed to exacerbating it.
We need to look out for those who are not coping. Individuals in distress are often not looking for specific advice. Warning signs of suicide include: hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking, feeling trapped like there’s no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society, anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.
The listening ear of someone with compassion,empathy and a lack of judgement can help restore hope. We can check in with them, ask them how they are doing and encourage them to tell their story. This small gesture goes a long way.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.
Every year thousands of individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.
Know the Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Suicide
Being Prepared for a Crisis
Navigating a Mental Health Crisis
Need more information, referrals or support? Contact the NAMI HelpLine.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic. The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.
How To Engage Online With You Are Not Alone
NAMI.Org Personal Stories
Throughout the month of September, we will feature personal stories about how suicidal ideation/behaviors or suicide prevention have affected people’s lives or what the message of “You Are Not Alone” means to them. Personal stories are brief, informal snapshots of lived experience, making them unique from pieces published on the NAMI Blog. By sharing these stories, we aim to raise awareness and make people feel less alone in their mental health journeys. nami.org/yourstory
Please share the link with your networks, and they could be featured on nami.org/personal-stories and NAMI social media channels.
During the month of September, the NAMI Blog will focus on preventing and preparing for a crisis, as well as how to respond in the aftermath. New posts will be added weekly. Be sure to check out the NAMI Blog at nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog and look for posts on our social media featuring quotes from our authors.
Content posted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will highlight facts about suicide and key resources for support. We will also feature videos with members of the NAMI community telling their personal stories that we invite you to share.
It is important to reference crisis resources throughout the month. Here are some suggested social posts featuring helpful information:
Crisis episodes related to mental illness can be incredibly difficult. To help navigate through them, NAMI created this downloadable guide available in English and Spanish: nami.org/crisisguide #SPM20 #NotAlone
These are only a few of the reasons why it’s important to take part in promoting Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Please use these facts and others, including the “It’s Okay to Talk About Suicide” infographics on our website, to encourage discussions with your community through social media or other forms of outreach.
75% of all people who die by suicide are male.
Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are nearly 4x more likely to die by suicide.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for people 35-54
The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 31% since 2001
46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
While half of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, research shows that 90% experienced symptoms.
In 2017, suicide was:
the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10-34.1
the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15-24.1
the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, ages 15-24.1
the second leading cause of death for Hispanic people in the U.S., ages 15-34.
American Indian/Alaska Native adults die by suicide at a rate 20% higher than
non-Hispanic white adults.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth.
Transgender people are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
10% of young adults say they experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year.
1CDC. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). [Accessed 08/02/2019]. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html