Today, September Ninth, is World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and is co-sponsored by the World Health Organization. According to the United Nations, every forty seconds, someone dies from suicide. That is at least 800,000 people per year. Suicide rates alone in the U.S. have increased by 35% in the last ten years .Suicide is a national health problem that is the second leading cause of death of people aged 10-24 . September is known as Suicide Prevention Month.
In times of a pandemic and an increase in national (American) conversations about race, as well as an approaching election, rates of depression and anxiety are increasing . Although mental health is an important topic year-round, September is dedicated to raising awareness regarding suicide and mental health. Aside from those who commit suicide, millions of others contemplate it every year. This excludes no age, race, and income level (although certain demographics are more susceptible).
It is important to recognize the signs of suicide, since many do not talk about their thoughts or feelings. Warning signs include:
- Increased use of substance abuse
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Reckless behavior- such as driving too fast, driving intoxicated, or driving without a seatbelt
- Extreme mood swings
- Talks about feeling hopeless
- Withdrawal/isolation from others
These signs are often tough to recognize, especially during a pandemic when many are withdrawing from social communication. People, even friends, are often reluctant to bring up uncomfortable conversations regarding mental health. Beyond talking about mental health, other reminders of suicide prevention are: affordable housing, livable wages, and universal healthcare. Talking about it is just the first step to eliminate the stigma.