National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Did you know that millions of Americans are directly affected by more than 37,000 suicides each year?   September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with this week being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week.  World Suicide Prevention Day is Saturday, September 10th.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and your prevention efforts are critical.

Risk Factors

  • Family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse / intoxication
  • Access to lethal means
  • Serious or chronic medical illness
  • Mental disorders – i.e. mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, and certain personality disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Lack of support and sense of isolation
  • Lack of health care – i.e. mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Recent tragedy or loss
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Gender (more women attempt suicide; however, men are four times more likely to die by suicide)
  • Age (people under the age of 24 and over 65 are at an increased risk for suicide)

Warning Signs

  • Suicidal ideation – Threats or comments about killing themselves
  • Talking, writing, or thinking about death
  • Increased substance use (drugs/alcohol)
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

List of risk factors and warning signs obtained from:

What can you do?
Learn about suicide.  Visit and to learn more about suicide.

Educate others.  Take a look at this great Suicide Prevention Month Ideas for Action Resource Guide by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Be prepared for a crisis.

Take action.
If you think your friend or family member will hurt themselves or someone else, call 911.  Here are some additional steps you can take to reduce risk:

  • Remove lethal means (i.e. guns, knives, pills)
  • Calmly ask simple and direct questions. (i.e. What can I do to help? Can I help call your counselor or psychiatrist?)
  • Talk openly and honestly about suicide. (i.e. Are you having thoughts of suicide? Do you have a plan to hurt yourself?) – Make sure only one person is speaking at a time if multiple people are present.
  • Don’t debate if suicide is right or wrong.
  • Don’t argue, threaten, or raise your voice.
  • Assist with calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
  • View a complete list of these tips here:


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