TW/CW: This post discusses suicide.
Every year on My Brain’s Not Broken, I write posts and share information about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Held every September in the United States, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a month dedicated to awareness and advocacy about suicide and suicide prevention. Though awareness months exist in many forms and for many reasons, I believe that there is something unique about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month that should continue to demand attention. We know that suicide is a public health issue, and the pandemic is one more reason to push for more education and awareness around suicide prevention.
The first part of any sort of awareness is to educate people on the topic. Here are some statistics from a post I wrote during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in 2020:
In the last 20 years, the suicide rate in the U.S. has grown by more than 25 percent, and it was the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2019. It is the second-leading cause of death among individuals in the 10-14, 15-24, and 25-34 age groups. It is the fourth-leading cause of death among individuals in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that in 2017, there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts, and 4.3% of all adults in the United States admitted to having suicidal thoughts at some point that year.My Brain’s Not Broken, 2020
Though a lot of these statistics are from 2019, the past year-and-a-half of the pandemic heightened some of the risk factors of suicide for millions in the United States, and billions of people around the world:
Early 2020 dataexternal icon show a 4.6% decrease in suicide deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic has increased many risk factors for suicide, such as social isolation and barriers to physical and mental healthcare.Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021
These statistics might be frightening, but this is what’s been going on for decades. Suicide rates have been steadily rising for more than 30 years, and we need to find new ways to combat these numbers, and the millions of people affected by suicide. This month isn’t just about raising awareness, but educating people about suicide prevention and what we can do to prevent suicide. There are so many resources available from organizations and advocacy groups that discuss how we can work to prevent suicide and while they’re available year-round, Suicide Prevention Month provides some time to focus even more on this important topic.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the CDC all have pages that are dedicated to suicide prevention and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month specifically. My blog will be full of information and resources all month long, and I’m hoping to create a space where people can not only learn about suicide prevention, but what role they play in preventing it.
This week (September 5-11) is National Suicide Prevention Week and tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). While I believe there’s always time to talk about mental health and suicide prevention, I recognize these awareness days, weeks and months exist to bring us together and find ways to educate and support one another. We all have a part to play in suicide prevention, and it’s important to find how we can help support ourselves or others as we continue the fight against suicide.