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September is suicide prevention awareness month - here are resources you can use
These resources can help if you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
What’s the story?
- September is Suicide Prevention Month and the National Institute of Mental Health notes that suicide is a “major public health concern” and is “among the leading causes of death in the U.S.” Here are some statistics and resources related to suicide among the general public and the veteran and military communities.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S. in 2019, claiming the lives of 47,511 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44 in 2019. Preliminary CDC data from 2020 indicates that the number of suicides declined for the second straight year to 44,834.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Foundation has free resources including self-care strategies, along with tips for having conversations about mental health.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK(8255) connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed. The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741.
Veterans and Military Members
- An average of 18 veterans die by suicide each day, and that number grows to about 20 a day when current active-duty servicemembers, National Guard personnel, and reservists are factored in.
- Following recent events such as the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, more veterans are reaching out to the Veterans Crisis Line, which has also been shared more widely across the media: Calls jumped about 7%, online chats were up 40%, and texts up about 98% in August compared to last year.
- The top clinical priority of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preventing suicide among veterans, and each VA medical center has a Suicide Prevention Coordinator who can connect veterans with counseling and services needed. Dr. Matthew Miller, the National Director of VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, told the MilitaryTimes that the agency is encouraged that more people are using the service:
“Every call is worthwhile, every call is exactly what we are there for. We find when veterans call us and talk with us, or engage with us in any way, it breaks down a wall in terms of stigma and in terms of barriers to care they may perceive. And when those walls are broken down, then they are more likely to contact us the next time they are in a crisis.”
- Veterans experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veterans Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staff member. Veterans, troops, or their family members may also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net to access chat services.
— Eric Revell
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