Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Prevention initiatives, awareness campaigns, and remembrance events are being held in many nations across the globe, including the United States. According to the World Health Organization, around 1 million people die each year because of suicide, making it one of the leading preventable causes of death. For each death, there are another 19 suicide attempts. Despite efforts to increase suicide awareness and prevention, the affliction has been on a consistent rise; global rates have jumped by 60% since 1965.
In the United States, suicide is on the rise for the first time in years, with middle aged women the fastest growing group. And for the first time since the military began keeping records (during the Vietnam War), military suicide rates have surpassed civilian suicide rates. To that end, psychotherapy and mental health support services for active troops and veterans are key to suicide prevention in the United States. Military mental health is one of the top priorities of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, whose founding leadership was announced today by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is also promoting messages of awareness and prevention. We may not understand a loved one’s urges to take their own life, “but we can all challenge ourselves to become better listeners so that we can be there for each other when we’re seeing things from somewhere far from center,” writes Michael Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of NAMI. Recognizing signs of depression, and being especially aware of people in at-risk groups (veterans, the unemployed, young adults, and people with a history of depression, to name a few) are essential to getting people out of a dangerous frame of mind and into therapy and support groups. Suicide may not ever be entirely eradicated, but promoting awareness and creating environments where it is safe to voice tough feelings are two giant steps in the right direction.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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