Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2023

Suicide Prevention Month 2023 Newsletter

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Alarmingly, our nation’s suicide rate increased by 4% between 2020 and 2021 after two years of decline and suicide is now the second leading cause of death in the United States for people between 10 and 34, according to the CDC. When looking at these statistics, it’s also important to remember that statistics represent people and lives lost.

Throughout this month, Cobb Collaborative will highlight and feature suicide awareness and prevention advocacy in our social media channels. We want to help break the stigma associated with suicide awareness and increase our efforts to be proactive in the fight for the prevention of lives lost to this epidemic.

First things first: If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call or text 988 to be connected to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. 988 Lifeline is available in English and Spanish. (If someone you know is in imminent danger, please call 911 immediately!)

As with other mental health factors, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, etc. Suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Although suicidal thoughts can be common, they should NEVER be considered as normal/healthy thought patterns as they are more often indicators of more serious issues. If you or a someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help. You are NOT alone and you are needed here!

According to our friends at the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI):

Individual Impact

  • 79% 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 second leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 and the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
  • The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.
  • 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition.
  • While nearly half of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, research shows that 90% may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition.

Community Impact:

  • Annual prevalence of serious thoughts of suicide, by U.S. demographic group:
    • 4.9% of all adults
    • 11.3% of young adults aged 18-25
    • 18.8% of high school students
    • 45% of lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students
  • The highest rates of suicide in the U.S. are among American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic white communities.
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth.
  • Transgender adults are nearly 9x more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for people held in local jails.

(Data from CDC, NIMH and other select sources.)

Putting a human element to these statistics is crucial in the fight against suicide. We must remember that “Statistics are people with the tears wiped away.” For each number presented above, there are countless people who fit into the categories shown. These statistics represent lives taken when they could have been saved. The need for suicide awareness and prevention is great. The time is NOW!

What can be done?

Sharing some helpful information from Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

  • Ask: Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
  • Be There: Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.
  • Keep Them Safe: A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.
  • Follow Up: Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after they have been discharged from hospitals or care services.

While September will have an increased dedication to suicide prevention and awareness, it is vital that we all continue forward in the fight against suicide. We should all continue to advocate for the value of all lives and work to help prevent the loss of life due to this epidemic. 

Additional resources include:

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI works to educate, advocate, listen and lead to improve the lives of people with mental illness and their loved ones.
  • NAMI Cobb provides education programs, support and advocacy for individuals living with a mental health condition, their families, caregivers and friends as well as the local communities in Cobb County, while also supporting Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Bartow and Paulding counties.
  • NAMI Georgia – The mission of NAMI Georgia is to empower affiliates to create communities where all affected by mental illnesses find hope, help, and acceptance through SUPPORT, EDUCATION and ADVOCACY.
  • Ser Familia is an organization dedicated to strengthening Latino families through programs that empower them to thrive and enjoy a healthy family environment.
  • The Trevor Project‘s mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.

It is also important to know that asking for help is okay. Whether you are dealing with mental health issues personally or caring for a friend or family member, the situation can feel overwhelming and hopeless. Our Mind Your Mind page provides access to information and local resources to help you navigate your situation.

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