Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (Part I): Supporting AFSP
Exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of suicide continues to increase as a result of mental health stressors like economic pressures and isolation. This September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in the United States, and in an effort to support and spread awareness of this mental health crisis, we’ll be sharing information on organizations that advocate for and provide resources to those affected by suicide on the PRMS blog. This month, PRMS is proud to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and highlight the work this organization does below.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to suicide data taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2018 – with 48,344 suicides recorded in America in 2018. We can only guess how much that statistic will increase due to the pandemic.
As shared on the organization’s website, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) works to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide by providing a nationwide support network empowered by research, education, and advocacy. AFSP’s core strategies include: funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide. The voluntary health organization has chapters in all 50 states, a public policy office in Washington, D.C., and programs and events nationwide.
Through research and advocacy efforts, AFSP has identified risk factors and warning signs, created resources for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and loss support groups, and compiled information on treatment options. Below is a list of the top ten findings AFSP has learned through research to advance its mission:
- Suicide is related to brain functions that affect decision-making and behavioral control, making it difficult for people to find positive solutions
- Limiting a person’s access to methods of killing themselves dramatically decreases suicide rates in communities
- Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying — and potentially treatable — mental health condition
- Depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use are strongly linked to suicidal thinking and behavior
- Specific treatments used by mental health professionals — such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy-SP and Dialectical Behavior Therapy — have been proven to help people manage their suicidal ideation and behavior
- No one takes their life for a single reason. Life stresses combined with known risk factors, such as childhood trauma, substance use — or even chronic physical pain — can contribute to someone taking their life
- Asking someone directly if they’re thinking about suicide won’t “put the idea in their head” — most will be relieved someone starts a conversation
- Certain medications used to treat depression or stabilize mood have been proven to help people reduce suicidal thoughts and behavior
- If someone can get through the intense, and short, moment of active suicidal crisis, chances are they will not die by suicide
- Most people who survive a suicide attempt (85 to 95 percent) go on to engage in life
These research efforts and the results shared by AFSP shed light on the intricacies of suicide and the individuals it touches, helping to bring awareness to this mental health crisis. For additional information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and more ways to get involved, visit www.afsp.org.
Are you in a crisis? Help is available. Call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.
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Authored by PRMS.