MONTGOMERY – Every year, mental health organizations and individuals in the U.S. and around the world raise awareness of suicide prevention during September, National Suicide Prevention Month. All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. We can all help prevent suicide.
Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear authored a recent Op-Ed, “Suicide is Just a Number until it's Someone You Love,” discussing the need for suicide prevention and awareness. “In our state, a person dies by suicide every 11 hours… There is a stigma surrounding suicide that sometimes prevents serious discussion on the issue. As a result, those who need help may not seek the treatment needed. There is also, at times, a hesitation by loved ones who are not sure how to help,” said Beshear.
The Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Coalition (ASPARC) promotes awareness during September and every month. “Making people aware of the causes and consequences of suicide saves lives. It also reduces stigma that keep suicidal and mentally ill persons from obtaining help. Awareness motivates people to establish relationships and help suicidal persons find appropriate treatment. Awareness creates hope in the knowledge that effective treatment is available and death is not inevitable,” said David Coombs, President (ASPARC).
ADMH encourages anyone who desires to learn more about how they can directly help someone in need to take QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) and Mental Health First Aid. QPR is a gatekeeper training developed by the QPR Institute 30 years ago to enable any adult to identify someone who may be suicidal, initiate a conversation, persuade the person to get help, and assist her or him in finding and accessing appropriate help. For more information on this training, please contact Katie Beaugez at 205-677-6116, or visit www.ASPARC.org
Mental Health First Aid is similar to traditional first aid and CPR. Mental Health First Aid is help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves. For more information on this training, please contact ADMH staff member Lauren Blanding at 334-353-8866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the ADMH Office of Deaf Services (ODS) reached out to the Deaf community in Alabama to promote available resources and awareness regarding suicide.
Veterans experience a high rate of suicide. An average of 20.6 suicides every day occur among veterans, with 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in 2015. Suicide prevention information is important to share with veterans, as crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. If you’re a veteran or service member and in crisis, these resources can help. Please call the Veterans Crisis Line for help.
In order to address the issue of physician suicide, the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), annually dedicate the third Monday (September 17, 2018) in September as National Physician Suicide Awareness (NPSA) Day.
Data offers the relative risk for suicide among physicians as 2.27 times greater among women and 1.41 times higher among men versus the general population. Each physician suicide is a devastating loss. It is both a very personal loss and a public health crisis. For more information, please contact the Medical Association of Alabama.
Suicide is preventable. Learn how to help and obtain resources at https://afsp.org/take-action/. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.