Every time a person commits suicide, at least six other people are estimated to be intimately affected by the loss. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 40,000 people dying by suicide each year. Non-fatal self-harm injuries account for roughly 500,000 visits to hospitals each year. Millions of people are affected by these acts, and loved ones and survivors may experience anguish, grief, frustration, and other complex emotions after a suicide, attempted suicide, or self-harm event.
Substance abuse and mental health issues, particularly depression, are some of the largest risk factors for suicidal ideation, and adequate mental health care is one of the strongest protective factors that may keep a person from resorting to suicide. Age appears to play a part as well, because suicide rates are significantly higher than the national average of 12.6% among adults between the ages of 45 and 64 (19.9%), and for those 85 and older (17%). For younger populations, suicide is a leading cause of death: It’s the second-leading cause among adults between the ages of 25 and 44, and the third-leading cause for people between 15 and 24 years of age.
Suicide is preventable, though. Recognizing warning signs, eliminating stigma, and talking with loved ones or finding professional help for those who may be having suicidal thoughts are the most important steps we can take to save lives.
There are a number of organizations working to educate the public about suicide, provide resources to suicide survivors, and prevent people from taking their own lives. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best online resources for suicide prevention—GoodTherapy.org excluded—in 2014. Our selections are based on quality and depth of content, presentation, and functionality.
- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE): This organization was founded by a nationally known suicidologist who lost her own daughter to suicide in 1979. SAVE works to bring awareness to the fact suicide is a public health issue that should not be surrounded by stigma. In 2001, SAVE launched an initiative to use the media and mass marketing to educate the public about suicide prevention, depression, and the link between depression and suicide. SAVE creates customized training programs for professionals including clergy, teachers, and social service professionals, while working to disseminate school-based suicide prevention programs and educational events. Visitors to the website can find support groups, read personal stories, and find information on how to cope with loss and grief. SAVE is also featured as a GoodTherapy.org GoodCause recipient to help raise funds for the organization.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC): The center provides technical assistance, training, and materials to professionals serving people at risk for suicide. The SPRC is the only federally supported resource center in the nation that works to increase the knowledge and professional expertise of suicide prevention practitioners. The SPRC conducts workshops, webinars, and online courses in conjunction with organizational support from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): One of the leading nonprofit organizations working to prevent suicide and educate the public about suicide, the AFSP funds scientific research, advocates for public policy, and has local chapters across the country that work at the community level to raise awareness of and educate citizens about the warning signs of suicide. AFSP also offers educational programs for professionals and resources for survivors of suicide loss. Visitors to the AFSP site can find suicide facts, personal stories from survivors, the latest in public policy initiatives, and event information.
- Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors: Ronnie Walker, LMHC, established Alliance of Hope in 2008 after the loss of her stepson to suicide in 1995. The organization works to provide resources to those who have lost a loved one to suicide and build a sense of community for those who are bound together by similar loss. Alliance of Hope is a non-denominational and non-discriminating group that recognizes the unique differences in cultures and faith traditions around the world in dealing with the aftermath of suicide, and helps those left behind to not only survive, but to lead joyous and meaningful lives. Visitors to the site can find a blog, bookstore, memorials, and a community forum that is supervised and monitored by a mental health counselor and trained team of survivor moderators.
- Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO): The DSPO works to facilitate suicide prevention efforts and serves as the Department of Defense oversight authority for the development, communication, and implementation of Department of Defense suicide and risk-reduction programs. The DSPO was established in November 2011 and works across all branches of the military to encourage help-seeking behaviors for behavioral health issues from entry on duty to retirement or separation from the service. Visitors to the DSPO website can access suicide facts and data, resources, news, and the military crisis line. Also featured on the site are service member, provider, and family stories as well as public service announcements.
- The Trevor Project: Founded in 1998 by James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski, and Randy Stone, creators of the Academy Award-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project established the first national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Since then, The Trevor Project has been a well-known innovator in LGBTQ suicide prevention and advocacy, with a large social network and a wealth of resources for youth and adults. The Trevor Project’s confidential phone, instant message, and text messaging crisis intervention services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visitors to the website will also find a blog, events calendar, and many more resources for LGBTQ youth.
- Live Through This: A collection of stories and portraits of suicide attempt survivors, this visually compelling project was created by New York-based photographer and writer Dese’Rae L. Stage. Stage is a suicide-attempt survivor who wants to put personal stories, and the faces behind them, at the forefront of public consciousness to reduce stigma and show other survivors that they are not alone. Stage travels across the country collecting stories and taking photographs to provide comfort, hope, and a sense of community among survivors. She states on the website that it is her hope that the Live Through This project can serve as an educational tool to promote suicide awareness in a relatable and unique way. The Live Through This project also provides resources for suicide survivors and those who may have suicidal ideation, including information about warning signs, risk factors, and links to other helpful sites.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a confidential, toll-free, 24-hour crisis line available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It was launched in 2005 by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Mental Health Association of New York City. The Lifeline’s network of crisis centers across the nation connects callers to crisis counselors and mental health referrals day and night. Veterans, active military, and their families are connected to a veterans suicide prevention hotline specialist. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website also provides information for the deaf and hard of hearing, information about how to help someone else, and general information about mental health, therapy, and suicide prevention.
- The Jason Foundation: Clark Flatt lost his son to suicide in 1997, and after researching the silent epidemic that is youth suicide, Flatt founded the Jason Foundation to empower youth and inform parents and educators how to recognize the warning signs and solicit the right professional help. The Jason Foundation has developed a school-based curriculum for students as well as informational seminars and information kits for teachers and parents that is nationally and internationally available. The Jason Foundation has been active in influencing legislation around the country for including youth suicide awareness and prevention training through The Jason Flatt Act. Visitors to The Jason Foundation website can download the “A Friend Asks” app, view informational videos, and get more information on The Jason Foundation’s initiatives.
Have a website you would like to see in our Top 10? Recommend it here.
- Facts and Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures
- McIntosh, J. L., & Drapeau, C. W. (for the American Association of Suicidology). (2014). U.S.A. suicide 2011: Official final data. Retrieved from http://www.suicidology.org/Portals/14/docs/Resources/FactSheets/2011OverallData.pdf
- Mortality in the United States, 2012. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db168.htm
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