September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and National Suicide Prevention Week also occurs in September each year to raise awareness and discuss suicide prevention efforts and resources, statistics, and causes. The month is organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and discusses the topic of suicide in the U.S. to reduce stigma and advocate for support and resources.
How To Celebrate Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
This September, there are various ways you can celebrate and raise awareness for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and National Suicide Prevention Week. A Global Mental Health Center study found that destigmatizing mental health conditions is one of the top ways to encourage evidence-informed practices and resources throughout global communities.
One way to destigmatize mental health is by celebrating suicide prevention awareness and supporting local and worldwide efforts to normalize reaching out for support. Additionally, it aims to encourage discussions of challenging mental health topics that can aid in reducing stigma around these conversations.
Below are a few ways to celebrate September this year and destigmatize the discussion around suicide.
Check Out NAMI’s Resources
NAMI offers a variety of resources to those looking to support Suicide Prevention Month, including the following:
- “You Are Not Alone,” a book by Dr. Ken Duckworth of inspiring mental health stories.
- Fast facts about suicide and community impact.
- Suicide prevention blog posts.
- Helpful mental health images and graphics to print and post around your community.
- A guide on the warning signs of suicide risk so you know what’s considered normal and what’s worth paying closer attention to.
If you require crisis support, don’t use this site. You can reach out to one of the following crisis lifelines or websites for immediate guidance:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 (and press 1) or text 838255. For support for the deaf and hard of hearing community, please use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.
- Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ Lifeline): (866)488-7386
- SAMHSA National Helpline (Substance Use): (800) 662-4357
- National Eating Disorder Association Helpline:1-800-931-2237 (M-Th: 9 AM-9 PM EST, Fri 9 AM - 5 PM EST)
- Child Help Hotline: Call 1-800-422-4453 or use the online chat feature
- National Anti-Hazing Hotline: 1-888-NOT-HAZE (1-888-668-4293)
- Physician Crisis Support Line: Call 1-888-409-0141 if you are a first responder or medical provider experiencing crises related to Covid-19
- Sexual Assault Hotline: Call RAINN at 1-800-656-4673
Attend An Event
Events for Suicide Awareness Month occur every September and are often announced a few months before the event occurs. You can check various organizations for news on upcoming community efforts. The Action Alliance is one non-profit that lists national events. Past events included the following:
- National American Indian/Alaska Native Hope for Life Day
- National Response Congressional Briefing Series
- Webinar speeches
- Educational media sessions
- Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force
You can also reach out to local mental health clinics or organizations to see if a local event is being planned for this year. Some organizations might take volunteers, or you may be able to create your own event, like a parade or triathlon, in honor of suicide prevention.
In addition to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, you can celebrate other events like World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th and National Suicide Prevention Week, which occurs the week after Labor Day.
Create Media And Art For Awareness
If you want to spread the word about suicide prevention this September, consider creating and printing media and artistic materials to provide statistics and resources. You can make posters, pamphlets, social media templates, and other forms of media to post around your town, place of work, or school.
If you are an artist, creating art in honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month may also be beneficial. Whether you create paintings, sculptures, drawings, or another type of art, consider submitting it to local galleries or putting it online, letting people know what it means to you. In addition, art as a form of therapy can be a way to express emotions and reduce personal suicide risk.
Study The Suicide Statistics In Your Community
According to the CDC, suicide is a leading cause of death. Suicide statistics can vary based on age, gender, LGBTQ+ identity, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) identity, location, families, and background. Learning the unique statistics about your community can help you figure out where support is most needed. For example, Native Americans have one of the highest suicide rates in the country which may also be connected with concerns like poverty, isolation, and substance use.
Understanding this statistic, you may be able to advocate for local tribal resources and further education within these communities. You can also provide resources dedicated to supporting specific groups, such as the Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ young adults aged 13 to 24.
If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.
In The Direction Of Healing: Inspiring Support
There are many ways that Suicide Prevention Awareness Month inspires community action, support, and understanding. In advocating for nationwide healing, there are a few categories of information you can learn about, including the following.
SAMHSA has found that community action, widespread activities, and education are some of the most effective ways to make long-lasting changes in the suicide prevention movement. Community action can include parades, local fundraisers, talks, classes, or community-wide events. The more voices supporting and discussing a cause, the less it may feel mysterious or stigmatized for those considering seeking help. If people have access to resources, and they’re readily available and normalized, people within the community may feel safer reaching out to them.
As social connection is one of the leading factors of mental health and wellness, having a solid community may help people feel respected and vital to those around them.
If you want to directly support your community this September, consider volunteering to become a trained crisis counselor for a crisis chat or helpline. Many lines require volunteers and accept them year-round, such as the 988 Lifeline.
Effectiveness Of Suicide Prevention Interventions
Understanding the effectiveness of suicide prevention interventions can showcase the importance of their existence. Below are a few statistics on suicide prevention and how it makes a difference:
- Those who receive mental health screening and resources when checking in to the emergency room due to a mental health crisis have a 30% lower risk of suicide attempts than those who do not.
- Those who receive a crisis plan from a mental health professional after they attempt suicide are less likely to have another attempt and more likely to reach out for support in the future.
- 94% of Americans believe that suicide can be prevented in some instances, and 96% report the desire to take action to prevent suicide if someone they care about, like a friend or family member, is considering it.
- Suicide prevention interventions are effective in preventing attempts.
Connecting With Resources
There are various options if you are looking for resources in your community for you or someone you love. Although not all communities have resources, many do, and many resources can also be utilized online.
A few options you can look for in your community or online include:
- Your primary care provider (doctor)
- A local walk-in mental health clinic
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
- The online 988 Crisis Lifeline chat
- Now Matters Now (a resource to see what coping skills have been effective for others in your situation)
- Suicide Safety Plan (resources for mental health professionals looking to create suicide or crisis treatment plans for their clients)
- Mental Health America’s free screening tests online
- Local suicide prevention organizations
- Local women’s and family shelters
- The 211 line (a national hotline for crisis resources in your area)
- A local crisis center or crisis hotline specific to your city or state
- The JED Foundation for college students and teens
- The National Action Alliance
If you’re unsure where to find local resources, you can ask your primary care physician for a referral or talk to your therapist about options. Many therapists may also offer a crisis line or provide you with a crisis plan if you mention past suicidal ideation. Even if you have not experienced suicidal thoughts, you may ask your therapist to help you make a plan in case of a crisis to reduce the risk of it happening.
It can be challenging to make logical decisions or remember your coping skills during an emotional moment. For that reason, a written and signed crisis plan with resources, phone numbers, names, and skills written out can be beneficial in receiving support when you most require it.
Alternative Counseling Options
Over 41.7 million Americans saw a therapist in 2021, and the number is growing. However, many Americans do not reach out for support due to stigmas and barriers to in-person treatment, like cost, location, or availability. An untreated mental health condition can turn into more serious issues down the road, including death by suicide. In these cases, where stigmas and barriers exist, reaching out to an online counselor can be effective. Online counseling allows availability to rural communities, areas with a high density of clients, or those without insurance.
In addition, over 17 studies have found that online therapy is more effective than traditional in-person therapy in treating symptoms of depressive disorders. If you’re interested in talking to an internet-based counselor at a dedicated time each week, you can reach out to several online platforms, including sites like BetterHelp for individuals, Regain for couples, PrideCounseling for LGBTQ+ individuals, or TeenCounseling for teens aged 13 to 19. The platforms offer rates for phone, video, and live chat sessions with a licensed therapist. You can also message your therapist at any time.
If you require crisis support, reach out to one of the hotlines above. Suppose you seek long-term guidance, treatment planning, or mental health support. In that case, you can also reach out to a mental health professional online or in person for further guidance and compassionate, personalized advice and support.
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