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.
When is National Suicide Prevention Month 2023?
Suicide, its causes, awareness around it, and its prevention are observed on National Suicide Prevention Month in September.
History of National Suicide Prevention Month
“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.
In recent years, society has become more open and receptive to discussions and conversations on suicide. However, there is still a stigma surrounding it and, with suicide rates increasing, it still means that the right help is not reaching people on time and we have a long way to go. It’s one of the fastest-growing epidemics around the world — approximately 44,000 people in the U.S. alone commit suicide each year.
All of us play a role in both perpetuating the causes of- and preventing suicide. Every year on National Suicide Prevention Month in September, mental health advocates, survivors, friends and family, and mental health organizations across the country and around the world share their experiences and work towards eradicating this most tragic act.
Suicidal thoughts can plague anyone regardless of age, gender, or social status. Commonly linked to depression, there is no foolproof indicator of suicidal tendencies. Many people suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts cover them up quite well. Such was the case with beloved comedian Robin Williams, who committed suicide at the age of 63 in August 2014.
Originally established in 1979 as a support group by family members of individuals diagnosed with mental illness, the National Alliance On Mental Illness is a United States-based organization that serves as a resource on this highly taboo topic. NAMI helps those affected by suicide, assists with sourcing effective treatment services, and raises awareness for educating others on its prevention.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
National Suicide Prevention Month timeline
Thanks to funding from the U.S. Public Health Service, the first suicide prevention center opens in Southern California.
The National Institute of Mental Health assembles a task force in Phoenix to discuss the status of suicide prevention in the country.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) creates the country’s first program aimed at serving all persons at risk of suicide in the U.S. via local, certified crisis centers.
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act creates the first grant program that specifically aids in suicide prevention.
It's called the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and concludes that the goal of saving lives can only be achieved through a series of coordinated steps.
By The Numbers
30% – the percentage increase in the rate of death by suicide in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016.
50% – the percentage increase in suicides among girls and women between 2000 and 2016.
10 – the ranking of suicide as the leading cause of death in the U.S.
47,511 – the number of Americans who died by suicide in 2019.
1.38 million – the number of suicide attempts in the U.S. in 2019.
13.93 – the age-adjusted suicide rate per 100,000 individuals.
3.63 – the number of times by which more men committed suicide than women in recent years.
69.38% – the percentage of white males who accounted for suicide deaths in 2019.
50.39% – the percentage of all suicides by firearms.
93% – the percentage of Americans surveyed who think suicide can be prevented.
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
Ask direct questions
Even though it's hard, ask a person directly if they’re thinking about suicide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why National Suicide Prevention Month is Important
It promotes awareness
Suicide prevention organizations aim to decrease suicides by 20 percent over the next seven years. In order to do this, they're making a conscious effort to talk about suicide — its warning signs, how to prevent it, how to discuss it, etc.— in school, at the workplace, and in politics.
It starts a dialogue
There's a stigma connected to suicide, so too often it's not talked about — and those who suffer from it feel they can't discuss it. Suicide Prevention Month helps to destigmatize this mental illness and promote conversation.
It initiates change
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.
National Suicide Prevention Month dates