General suicide prevention
Suicide not only ends a life, it also has harmful long-term effects on families, friends and communities.
Death by suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, prevention strategies share two goals:
- Reduce factors that increase risk
- Increase factors that promote resilience or coping
No matter the specifics, successful prevention strategies promote awareness of suicide, helpful resources for those who need them and a comprehensive commitment to social change by all stakeholders.
There is no single way to prevent suicide, and we all must work together to solve this crisis. More than 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017. Moreover, advocates estimate that there was more than 1.4 million non-fatal suicide attempts that year as well.
Despite these alarming numbers, there has not been enough public conversations about this issue or mental health in general. Individuals who are struggling with suicidal thoughts often feel alone and isolated, and if they don’t know how to reach out for help it can compound their frustrations. Stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting of both deaths and attempts of this destructive behavior.
Advocacy efforts at all levels have increased in recent years as mental health has become more of a public priority, as well as a talked about issue in American workplaces and homes. However, there are still many strides to make. Mental health professionals and other stakeholders need public officials and the general public to make connections with at-risk populations and the at-risk individuals who need them the most during their times of need.
No matter how big the scope, any prevention plan will be more successful when it is multi-faceted and supported by many groups. An effective general suicide prevention effort not only makes sure that the right resources are available to help those in need but focuses on ways to publicize those efforts.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month every year, and it is important to have an honest conversation about suicide and other mental health issues year round. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness points out, you never know when such a conversation can change a life.