ORLANDO, Fla. – Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States with an average of 132 suicides per day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) was Sept. 10, established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Creating Hope Through Action” is the triennial theme for the World Suicide Prevention Day from 2021-2023.
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For more than 15 years, people across the nation have connected to suicide prevention and mental health crisis care by calling the national suicide prevention lifeline. Last summer, the 800 number was simplified to 988 — making it easier for people to access immediate care.
Catherine Rea, vice president of 211 and 988 services for Heart of Florida United Way, said in 2022 they handled more than 9,300 calls — adding that calls have gone up since July 2022 when the national number was simplified to 988.
You can call or text 988, and also use a chat feature at 988lifeline.org. The 24/7 lifeline is free and confidential and offers support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.
You will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing 988 Lifeline network, made up of over 200 local crisis centers.
Callers who follow the “press 1″ prompt are connected to the Veterans Crisis Line. A Spanish Language line is available by pressing 2 when calling 9-8-8, and more than 240 languages are supported through a Tele-Interpreters service. Callers now also have the option of following a “press 3″ prompt to be connected to a counselor specifically trained in supporting LGBTQI+ callers.
President Biden recently proclaimed Sept. 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day saying in part, “I call upon all Americans, communities, organizations, and levels of government to join me in creating hope through action and committing to preventing suicide across America.”
Here are some tips on “Creating Hope Through Action,” according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention:
- Spread awareness: Raise awareness about suicide prevention by using various platforms such as social media, community events, and informational campaigns
- Start conversations: Initiate open and compassionate discussions about mental health and suicide prevention
- Reach out: You can help give hope by reaching in to somebody in distress. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, but simply making the time and space to listen to someone about their experiences of distress or suicidal thoughts can help
- Support organizations: Identify and support local and national organizations that are dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health support
- Share your story: Sharing your story of lived experience (whether it’s your own experience of suicide or that of supporting someone) is extremely powerful
- Learn the signs: Educate yourself and others about the warning signs of someone who might be at risk of suicide
Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
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