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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: One conversation can save a life

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
— Children’s television host Fred Rogers

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), all of us can benefit from having open and honest conversations about mental health challenges and suicide.

NAMI states that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34, and the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35 to 54.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is joining other organizations in highlighting the importance of helping those in crisis feel heard and validated.

“Suicide is a significant public health issue that can have a devastating and lasting impact on individuals, families and communities,” said Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D. “If you know someone who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, reach out with kindness and compassion, and let them know you care. One conversation can possibly save a life.”

Supporting those in crisis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 47,500 Americans died by suicide in 2019, with an average of one person taking their own life every 11 minutes. The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2019, approximately 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan for suicide and 1.4 million attempted suicide.

NAMI offers the following tips when having a conversation with someone in crisis.

  • Encourage them to talk with you about what they are going through.
  • Listen actively and openly to what they say.
  • Provide positive reinforcement, and avoid using negative statements.
  • Reflect their feelings and summarize their thoughts.
  • Reassure them that you are concerned for their well-being, and encourage them to seek help and to lean on you for support.

The conversation can start with a simple text message. NAMI created Sentimoji emojis to support the 1 in 5 American adults who experience a mental health challenge in a given year. Users can download the emojis from Google Play or Apple’s iOS store to show care and support for those who may be struggling emotionally.

“We all play a role in preventing suicide,” explained Dr. Graham. “Be the difference in someone’s life by texting, calling, listening to what they have to say and getting them the help they need.”

Suicide prevention resources

If you, or someone you know, is in crisis, remember, help is available. Reach out to a family member, friend or doctor, or take advantage of the following resources:

Devereux’s specialty mental health services

Devereux has a history of helping individuals and families in need.

We provide innovative programs and services for children, adolescents and adults with emotional and behavioral disorders in community and residential settings. Diagnoses served include anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, psychotic disorders and disruptive behavior disorders.

Learn more about our specialty mental health programs and services.


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