National Suicide Prevention Week

Salem, Virginia, 9/10/14: September seventh through the thirteenth marks National Suicide Prevention Week, a week-long campaign dedicated to informing and engaging the community – families as well as healthcare professionals – on the topic of suicide awareness.

“In order to prevent suicide, we need to raise awareness and educate people about the resources available to them,” stated Heidi Taylor, LPC, therapist at Mount Regis Center. “Emotional pain is very real and there is no shame in seeking out help. We also have to stop hiding ourselves from the truth. If you suspect that someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, step in. Ask questions. This is the only way that we can allow this silent epidemic to be silent no more.”

This year’s theme for Suicide Prevention week is “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected” and focuses on raising awareness that suicide is a serious, yet preventable, cause of premature death on a global level. This week represents a call for action and involvement from organizations worldwide to contribute to the cause of suicide awareness and prevention through activities, events, and community campaigns. By coming together, we can reduce the number of incidents of suicides and teach coping skills that can aid in preventing individuals from becoming suicidal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United Sates with one suicide occurring, on average, every 13 minutes. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24 years old and, although older adults only make up 13 percent of the population, they comprise 16 percent of all suicides. Approximately 987,950 Americans attempt suicide each year. Furthermore, an estimated five million Americans are survivors of a friend, family member, or loved one’s suicide. Each person’s suicide intimately affects at least six other people, with over 200,000 people losing someone to suicide each year.

While it is not always possible to know when someone is in pain, most suicidal individuals show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. These warning signs can include increased substance abuse, talking about not wanting to be alive, putting affairs in order, becoming withdrawn, expressing feelings of hopelessness or desperation, giving possessions away, and experiencing sudden changes in mood. If you see even one of these warning signs, it is imperative that you step in and speak up.

Suicide is a tragic act, but it can be prevented. Communities can help prevent suicide by learning and recognizing the warning signs of suicide, facilitating trainings on topics such as intervention skills for community members, providing information to schools and parents at local events, establishing comprehensive crisis plans, and providing information on where individuals can get proper mental health treatment. Everyone has the ability to make a difference and the power to save a life.