Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. Every day friends, family and co-workers can be struggling with intense emotional pain and hopelessness. It may be too difficult for them to initiate a conversation to talk about their pain, thoughts of suicide and the need for help. It’s important to know the warning signs that may show in conversations, their actions or in social media posts. By recognizing these signs, knowing how to start a conversation and where to turn for help, you have the power to save a life.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this stigmatized topic. Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services
wants to use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, connect individuals with suicidal thoughts to treatment services, and recognize that stigma is the largest obstacle to seeking treatment.
“While Californians are enduring the emotional toll of crises from COVID-19 to devastating wildfires, and racial injustice, this month serves as an added reminder that behavioral health is inseparable from our overall health as a state. Our behavioral health wellbeing has much wider implications for us as a community,” said, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Director Ryan Quist. “It’s important to remember that we all have a role to play in promoting connectedness, belonging, resiliency and prevention. Today, it’s more important than ever before that we reach out and support each other.”
- 75 percent of all people who die by suicide are male
- More women than men attempt suicide, but men are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for people 35-54
- The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 31 percent since 2001
- Stigma is the largest obstacle to recovery, treatment and societal acceptance for people living with mental illness.
- 46 percent of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
- While nearly half of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, research shows that 90 percent experienced symptoms.
Suicide can be prevented
- Know the Signs: Most people who are considering suicide show some warning signs or signals of their intentions. Learn to recognize these warning signs and how to respond to them.
- Find the Words: If you are concerned about someone, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. This can be difficult to do, but being direct provides an opportunity for them to open up and talk about their distress and will not suggest the idea to them if they aren’t already thinking about it. The “Find the Words” section of the Know the Signs website suggests ways to start the conversation.
- Reach Out: You are not alone in this. Before having the conversation, become familiar with some resources to offer to the person you are concerned about. Visit the Reach Out section of the Know the Signs website to identify where you can find help for your friend or loved one.
- Prevention Works: Many people who feel suicidal don’t want to die. If they can get through the crisis, treatment works. There are programs and practices that have been specifically developed to support those who are in a suicide crisis. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center hosts a registry of 160 programs, practices and resources for suicide prevention. You can learn more about them by visiting their website.
- Help is available: The Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255- TALK) offers 24/7 free and confidential assistance from trained counselors. Callers are connected to the nearest available crisis center. The Lifeline is also available in Spanish, and for veterans or for those concerned about a veteran, by selecting a prompt to be connected to counselors specifically trained to support veterans.
Sacramento County provides a spectrum of culturally competent and linguistically proficient mental health services to individuals of all ages. Services include prevention and early intervention, outpatient services, case management services, crisis intervention and stabilization services, and inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. Learn more about our mental health services