From Prevent Suicide PA
September is Suicide Prevention Month
Throughout the United States, individuals and organizations are stepping up to recognize September as Suicide Prevention Month, the week of September 8-14 as National Suicide Prevention Week, and September 10th as World Suicide Prevention Day.
Over the past two decades, suicide rates have risen dramatically across all age groups and in nearly every state, including Pennsylvania. In order to implement more comprehensive approaches to suicide prevention, we need to engage diverse stakeholders from multiple systems to work together, in addition to engaging individuals with lived experiences and their families.
Our efforts must incorporate training and education, awareness and stigma reduction, methods for early identification and referral, data collection and research to support evidence-based interventions and treatment, supports for healing after a suicide loss, lethal means reduction, and media partnerships to promote safe messaging. We must begin to think more broadly about suicide prevention, recognizing the need to reduce suicide risk factors and to build protective factors like social connections and healthy coping strategies.
We all play a vital role in preventing suicide and saving lives. Suicide knows no boundaries, meaning it can and does affect everyone. By providing a special month dedicated to prevention, we can amplify the unique voices of those affected by suicide and make it known that it is okay to reach out to help and to reach out for help.
This informational packet includes ideas and suggestions for activities to help build awareness within your community.
Thank you for stepping up for suicide prevention and taking action to help save lives.
Brief Suicide Statistics
United States (CDC, 2019):
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide.
In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide.
In 2017, there were an estimated 1,200,000 suicide attempts.
On average, approximately 129 Americans die by suicide every day.
There is one death by suicide in the United States every 11 minutes.
Pennsylvania Statistics (CDC, 2019; Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2019)
In Pennsylvania, on average, one person dies by suicide every four hours.
In 2017, 2,023 people died by suicide in Pennsylvania.
More than six times as many people died by suicide in Pennsylvania in 2017 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Pennsylvania:
2nd leading cause of death for ages 15-34.
4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54.
8th leading cause of death for ages 55-64.
17th leading cause of death for ages 65 & older.
Open discussion about suicide is critical to prevention, intervention, and postvention. How we talk about these subjects makes a difference. Here are some tips that may help when engaging in courageous conversations.
- Avoid using judgmental language.
- Use objective terms for suicidal events, such as “death by suicide” or “non-fatal attempt.” Avoid using the words “commit or complete suicide”.
The phrase “committed suicide” is usually associated where suicide is considered a sin or a crime, which suicide is neither.
Using the word “completed suicide” conveys success or accomplishing something good, which suicide is not.
- The proper term for someone who has taken there own life is “Died by suicide“. Also acceptable is “killed him/ herself’, “took their own life” or “suicided”.
- Avoid presenting suicide as an inevitable event or over-simplifying the cause.
- Avoid glamorizing deaths by suicide.
- When discussing the frequency of suicide, always emphasize the importance of every single life.
- Always provide information for assistance.
For additional information on safe messaging:
Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide: This guide important points for covering suicide, “do’s and don’ts” for safe reporting, and suggestions for online media/message boards/bloggers. Additional information can be found at http://reportingonsuicide.org/.
Safe and Effective Messaging for Suicide Prevention: Evidence-based recommendations from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC).
Framework for Successful Messaging: The National Action Alliance has provided this framework for public messaging (e.g., posters, PSAs, social media, websites, etc.) to ensure that suicide-related messages are safe, strategic, positive, and in line with best practices.
These are not just numbers. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family members, neighbors, loved ones, and community leaders who have, for one reason or another, temporarily lost hope. By working together this September, we can prevent suicide.