The week of September 4-10, 2011 is designated as Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. On September 10, 2011, World Suicide Prevention Day will be acknowledged globally. This week provides us opportunities to engage many who might not otherwise be aware of the magnitude of suicide.
In the United States, over 34,000 people die by suicide annually. The World Health Organization reports nearly 1 million suicide deaths yearly. Nationally, suicide is the 11thleading cause of death for all Americans and claims more lives than other leading causes of death such as homicide and HIV/AIDS combined. Globally, more die by suicide than by all interpersonal violence and wars combined. These few days in September provide us an opportunity to bring much needed attention to our important work. A vital first step is to raise awareness and make certain everyone understands suicide is preventable.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a few suggestions you might consider as you take steps this year to make a difference. The most successful suicide prevention initiatives use a strategic and comprehensive approach, so in thinking about which of these activities you might want to take on, consider which fit with your goals for making change in your state, tribe, campus, or community.
Some ideas include:
- Download the Suicide Prevention Week Information & Media Kit from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). The kit includes fact sheets, warning signs, public service announcements, publicity ideas, a press release script, a proclamation script, and references. Visit the AAS website or call AAS at 202-237-2280.
- Spread the word about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Let all referring agencies in your community know that the Lifeline is available to call for suicide intervention, and to notify local service providers, including directory 411 and 211 operators, to direct callers to 1-800-273-TALK for help. Learn more about Lifeline, link to their website, and post their logo in your web-based materials. Connect with Lifeline social media efforts.
- Ask public officials to write a proclamation designating a week as Suicide Prevention Week. See an example or refer to the AAS Suicide Prevention Week Information & Media Kit.
- Publicize World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, on your website or blog using the banners available at the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) website. Brochures about World Suicide PreventionDay are also available in several languages.
- Organize an event to increase awareness among legislators and others, or to honor key community leaders for their commitment to suicide prevention.
- Gain community input by holding a public forum on suicide and mental health issues. Invite advocates, mental health professionals, media, school personnel, health care providers, members of your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI), etc.
- Inform the media that they play a powerful role in educating the public about suicide prevention. Urge all print, radio and TV media to read Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.
- Learn more about survivor support and advocacy options at the survivor sections of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and AAS websites.
- Organize a depression screening day in schools or workplaces. Visit the National Depression Screening Day website to register for online or telephone screening and for news releases and fact sheets on depression. National Depression Screening Day is October 6, 2011.
- Distribute copies of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) or the summary version. Learn more about the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, whose mission is to advance the NSSP.
- Help your community learn the warning signs for suicide. Distribute wallet cards, available through the SAMHSA clearinghouse.
- Visit the SPRC website for more resources, including state suicide prevention pages, the Customized Information Series, and the SPRC online library. Keep up with the latest on suicide prevention by connecting to SPRC via social media and subscribing to the Weekly Spark.
Together we are making a difference. Let’s each continue to do our part and make certain that here in the U.S. and around the world we embrace the full potential of Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day. Please comment below and let me know - what are you planning to do?