September is National Suicide Prevention Month
There are an average of 123 suicides each day in this country. It’s the tenth leading cause of death in America — second leading for ages 25-34, and third leading for ages 15-24. In order to create awareness and strengthen the fight against suicide, the entire month of September is Suicide Prevention Month. Participate in the fight by getting involved with local organizations and listening to those who need help.
How to Observe National Suicide Prevention Month
- Spread the message:
Throughout Suicide Prevention Month, it’s extremely important to spread awareness, take time to reach out to those in need and help people understand the severity of this cause. How? Hand out Suicide Prevention pins, start a campaign, and share stories of hope on social media.
- Volunteer at a crisis center:
Provide support by volunteering at a crisis center in your area. Although this is something that can be done year-round, Suicide Prevention Month is the perfect time to get started. Check out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an organization that offers free and confidential emotional support 24/7 to those in crisis or emotional distress.
- Record a supportive video:
This is an easy option that doesn’t cost money or time, so anyone can do it. Simply record a 15-30 second video promising your friends to listen to anything they need to say. Then, use the hashtags #suicideispreventable #800273TALK #LETITOUT.
5 no-nonsense tips to help someone in crisis
1. Ask direct questions
Even though it’s hard, ask a person directly if they’re thinking about suicide.
2. Listen to their answers
People with suicidal thoughts often feel alone, so be sure to let them know that you care deeply about what they have to say.
3. Do a safety check
If you’re concerned for their well-being, try removing anything they could use to harm themselves, such as alcohol, drugs, medications, weapons, and even access to a car.
4. Don’t keep this a secret
Let them know you’ll help come up with a plan that involves telling a professional who can utilize the many services and resources available to help.
5. Ensure they seek professional help
Unless you work in the mental health industry, it’s important to suggest they seek additional help from other people, such as a doctor, counselor, psychologist or social worker.
Thanks to Suicide Prevention Month, approaches to suicide are beginning to change. For example, schools and workplaces are implementing new programs and even pop culture is acknowledging it. For example, the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” portrays the severity of suicide, the struggles leading to this tragic decision, as well as how it affects those left behind. The Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is using this platform to its advantage by turning the issues on the show into a national conversation.
History of Suicide Prevention Week
The American Association of Suicidology sponsors National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) activities. Since 1975, NSPW awareness events are held throughout the week corresponding to World Suicide Prevention Day, which is recognized annually on September 10.
Although suicide awareness activities started in the 1950s, the history of suicide itself goes back to the 1700s. The act of suicide is also prominently mentioned in ancient legend and history. Ajax the great killed himself in the Trojan War and Lucretia’s suicide around 510 B.C. initiated the revolt that displaced the Roman Kingdom.
Attitudes towards suicide have varied over the years through the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods with some supporting the act in cases when people were afflicted with a disease and some denying that suicide was a crime. It was not until the 1950s that suicide prevention activities in the U.S. started.