Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Knowledge, Connection, and Support
Written by: Miranda Owen
Miranda Owen is one of NAMI Wake’s work study students, helping us as a social media technician and blog contributor.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34. It impacts so many lives. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and at NAMI Wake, we are committed to advocating for suicide prevention and helping others do the same. Suicide affects so many people, so what can each of us do to support our friends and family in order to prepare for a mental health crisis and prevent suicide?
It is crucial to understand and be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness. Common signs of mental illness in adults and teenagers include excessive worrying or fear, feeling sad or low, changes in regular habits, extreme mood swings, thinking or talking about suicide, and more. In children, these signs can present as frequent disobedience, temper tantrums, changes in school performance, and more. For an exhaustive list of these signs visit NAMI.org. Also be aware of the many resources that can be utilized in the case of a mental health crisis, which can be found below.
Breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide can help make individuals with mental illness more comfortable sharing their experiences. The topic of suicide is highly stigmatized which can prevent those in need from seeking help. The stigma can cause challenges to these individuals in reaching out or getting needed support because of bullying, isolation, and shame. Breaking the stigma around mental illness and suicide includes three steps: educating yourself and others, seeing the person instead of the condition, and taking action. Learn the facts about suicide and mental illness to allow yourself to understand and empathize with people experiencing mental illness. Listening and learning from the personal stories of individuals, survivors, and family members can also give you a better awareness of the issue and allow you to see mental illness without a stigma. Lastly, taking action wherever possible can allow others, including our policymakers, to improve the lives of everyone. You can learn more, and take the pledge to be stigma free here.
Connecting with others is an important part of NAMI’s goals for reducing the stigma of suicide during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Part of breaking the stigma includes sharing your own story about suicide or mental illness, if you feel comfortable doing so. By reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and continuing to connect with those affected by mental illness, together we can raise awareness and ensure everyone has the resources and support they need to discuss suicide prevention. You can submit your own story, video, or picture and read others’ stories on the NAMI.org website.
Supporting those affected by mental illness, including suicide loss survivors, is so important. You can support those around you by offering access to resources or being a friend to someone in need. Those seeking support, whether you experience mental illness yourself or are a family member of someone who does, can check out our NAMI Wake virtual support groups.
You can also support those who struggle with mental illness and suicidal ideation by advocating for change. Be sure to register to vote and request a mail-in ballot or prepare to vote in person. North Carolina residents can update their voting registration at NCDOT.gov. Voting is crucial because it allows us as individuals to impact people with mental illness by supporting candidates who care about mental health and voting on federal bills. You can find out more about how to make mental health part of the debate here.
- In a crisis, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 911 in an emergency.
- You can also be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor by texting the Crisis Text Line, just text “NAMI” to 741-741.
- Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI for information and resource referrals, including information about local services and support.
- Check out NAMI’s page about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with more information.
Remember that it is okay to talk about suicide, and that you are not alone. Please reach out to a crisis line, friend, or health care professional if you start thinking about suicide. We hope you’ll join us in advocating for mental health and breaking down stigma surrounding suicide this September.