According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is a leading causes of death in the United States, and recent reports note that amid these pandemic times, suicidal ideation is at an all-time high, especially among young adults, marginalized racial groups, unpaid caregivers for adults, and essential workers. The unfortunate truth is that suicide is a growing and under-acknowledged public-health crisis. But, resources exist to both spread awareness and to help those who are in crisis.
So, in honor of September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, take note of the following seven ways anyone and everyone can increase awareness about suicide’s pervasive threat, raise money for organizations offering support to at-risk individuals, and donate their time and assistance to contribute in a way that could potentially save lives.
7 ways to support suicide prevention awareness month this September—and all year long.
1. Donate to or raise funds for an organization offering resources for support
If you have means available, an easy way to support suicide-prevention initiatives is to back organizations that bring help and hope to those in crisis. For two examples of where you can donate and/or dedicate fundraising efforts, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides information, support, and screening tools for those in need; and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255). Donations can be made directly to these organizations and others, or via third-party digital platform, like a Facebook fundraiser.
2. Become a trained crisis counselor
Those interested in taking a more directly active approach in suicide prevention can volunteer for a suicide prevention hotline, like Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741-741) or the Trevor Project, an organization focused on helping LBGTQ+ youth that offers resources including TrevorLifeline (1-866-488-7386), TrevorText (text “START” to 678-678), and TrevorChat (available through computer instant messaging). Both organizations offer training to volunteers interested in becoming crisis counselors for the respective platforms. Check out more information about volunteering to become a Crisis Text Line counselor here. And find more information here about becoming a crisis counselor for The Trevor Project.
3. Take a mental health first aid training course
Like CPR training or first aid training, mental health first aid training is designed to help you learn how to support individuals in times of crisis. It also teaches you the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use, which can be beneficial for making a difference in the life of someone who experiences suicidal ideation. To find a course in your area, click here.
4. Organize a suicide-prevention walk or run
Awareness events like walks and runs are important for many reasons: They’re a public-facing educational opportunity to provide intel about the warning signs of and risk factors for suicide. They encourage camaraderie and support. They let people in crisis and recovery alike know they are not alone. And they often raise funds for research, initiatives, and crisis support. For more information about sponsoring or participating in a community walk, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s event page.
5. Become a field advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Field advocates for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention work closely with politicians and AFSP officials to promote legislation and public policies that would aim to save lives. More specifically, they help to support state and federal suicidal prevention bills, and they speak on behalf of those who can’t. To learn more about field advocacy, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
6. Send a card or a care box to someone who may be struggling
Big gestures and far-reaching suicide prevention efforts great, but sometimes the smallest-seeming things make a huge impact, too. If you know someone who is having a tough time—mentally or emotionally—send them a card, text, message or email. Saying “I’m thinking of you” means a lot.
7. If you are a suicide survivor, considering sharing your experience to inspire those who are struggling
When it comes to mental-health issues and suicide, one of the greatest risk factors is silence because it’s what breeds stigma, which leads to shame. What’s more is that many who experience suicidal thoughts and/or ideations feel helpless, hopeless and alone. But they are not alone. You are not alone. And if you have attempted suicide, are in recovery, and feel safe doing so, consider talking about your experience because your life and story can help others.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with a counselor online.
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