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I think suicide is sort of like cancer was 50 years ago. People don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to know about it. People are frightened of it, and they don’t understand, when actually these issues are treatable.

Judy Collins

Suicide is a tragic end to a valuable life, a terrible and permanent solution to a temporary problem. Yet, unfortunately, this is also one of the fastest growing epidemics in the United States and in many other places across the world.

Each year in the US alone 44,000 people commit suicide, and a large percentage of those suicides (31,000) are Caucasian males.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month works to raise awareness of this tragic situation and encourages education on how to prevent it.

History of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Suicide has likely been a problem for the entirety of human history, but only in the most recent years has it started to become something of an epidemic that can be traced. While in the past, suicide was not unheard of, it was less talked-about due to the amount of shame that came along with having a family member who committed suicide. In fact, in some parts of the world suicide is still, to this day, consider to be a criminal act.

The epidemic of suicide in the Western world in recent years has gotten so bad that it rates as the third leading cause of death among those who are in vulnerable positions or difficult life circumstances.

It is particularly problematic that people who are having suicidal ideation usually feel as though they are not able to speak to others due to the stigmas surrounding this topic. This leaves those loved ones of those who do commit suicide in the dark, afraid and often utterly confused about what ultimately happened.

Organizations like the National Alliance of Mental Illness work every year to help raise awareness of the difficulty and pain of those who attempt suicide. By raising awareness and educating people about the signs that can indicate someone is having suicidal thoughts or are possibly in danger of attempting suicide, these organizations can help to prevent suicide from happening.

Of course, this type of work is not something any one person can do all alone. Everyone needs to try to pay attention to those around them, and watch for the signs so that they can get the help they need before it’s too late.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is also a chance to stop and assess yourself and those around you, making sure that someone who desperately needs some kind of help isn’t missing out and living at risk.

National Suicide Prevention Month Timeline

1951

First Crisis Hotline is formed 

Originally found in England, crisis hotlines are set up so callers can receive help from trained volunteers. These will pop up sporadically in different English-speaking cities over the next two decades.[1]

1958

First Suicide Prevention center opens in the US 

Funded by the US Public Health Service, Los Angeles hosts the first center of its kind, and many more will follow.[2]

2005

US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is started

Established by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this federally funded hotline provides support 24/7 across the US for those in emotional distress.[3]

2008

National Suicide Prevention Month launches 

The first observance of National Suicide Prevention Month is organized to raise awareness.[4]

2014

WHO releases first global report on Suicide Prevention 

Referred to by the United Nations as a call to action, the World Health Organization releases vital information from a global study aimed at the prevention of suicide.[5]

How to Observe Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Get Educated on Suicide

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is best observed by pursing education in the various ways it is possible to identify those who are at risk for suicide. As open and honest conversations have been brought forth in society, it’s now easier than ever to get the resources and information needed to understand how to assess if someone is in need, how to be a friend to them, and how to get them the help that they need.

Prevention Factors

These are some important factors that can help provide a foundation for offering hope and prevention:

  • Behavioral Health Care. Counseling and mental health care should be combined with physical and emotional health (medicines to address underlying factors) to bring health and healing to the whole person.
  • Life and Coping Skills. The at-risk person can learn skills to help him or her deal with difficult situations.
  • Connected to Community. People who have a strong support network are less likely to attempt or commit suicide. Keeping people connected and cared for is an important part of lowering risk.

Help Someone Get Help

Those who are paying careful attention can act as a lifeline to someone who is at high risk of attempting suicide. Hold honest conversations, expressing support and open-mindedness without showing judgment or harshness. Be sure to know how to get access to suicide prevention hotlines in the local area.

Learn the Risk Factors for Suicide

Understanding what is likely to put a person more at risk for suicide can be helpful is offering some advanced warning. Of course, these are not the only things that might offer an alert that someone needs help, but they are a beginning:

  • Previous suicide attempts.

  • Use of or abuse of drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substance (illegal or prescribed).

  • Depression, anxiety, mood swings and other mood or mental disorders.

  • Close relationship with someone who died by suicide (particularly a family member).

Make a Donation to a Suicide Prevention Charity

Whether finding a local charity that works nearby or donating to a national organization, making a donation helps to provide the funds required to make vital resources available to those who need them. Hotlines, pamphlets, counselors, education and prevention services are all in need of finances to keep their programs running. Some people like to do this as a tribute in honor of a loved one who has died by suicide.

Help out with a donation at one of these organizations:

Call A Suicide Hotline

If you have been having suicidal thoughts be sure to contact a suicide hotline, speak to a friend or family member, or seek professional therapy. You’re worth the effort, and you’re a worthwhile person, don’t let Suicide Prevention Awareness Month pass without getting the help you need.

For everyone else, remember to keep your eyes open, the life you save might even be one who is very close to you!

National Suicide Prevention Month FAQs

When to call a Suicide Prevention hotline?

A person can call a Suicide Prevention hotline if they are struggling with thoughts and ideations of suicide, or are having emotional distress.[1]

How to prevent suicide?

Suicide prevention begins by understanding, educating, and building a stronger community with access to vital mental health resources.[2]

How to get involved with Suicide Prevention?

To help, simply make a donation or sign up to become a trained volunteer with a local, state or national Suicide Prevention charity.[3]

What are Suicide Prevention colors?

The colors that many people wear in support of Suicide Prevention are yellow and orange.

What are suicide precautions?

Suicide precautions are used in homes and in health care facilities to protect those who might be at risk of attempting suicide.[4]

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