BRATTLEBORO -- For four decades the American Association of Suicidology has sponsored the National Suicide Prevention Week in September -- an annual event to raise awareness about this public health threat. Vermont ranks 14th in the nation for rate of suicide deaths.
The Vermont Suicide Prevention Resource and Training Center, a strong suicide prevention and awareness voice in the state that wants to promote positive mental health, asks Vermonters to take a moment this week to learn something new about this often misunderstood issue. The VSPRTC is a program of the Center for Health and Learning, creators of the UMatter Suicide Prevention campaign and training curriculum.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and approximately 922,725 Americans attempt suicide each year. It is estimated that another 5 million living Americans have attempted suicide.
"Those large numbers and percentages can make it difficult to grasp the heart of this issue," said Nicole Miller, Mental Health Program Specialist of the Center for Health and Learning. "A more immediate message that helps us take in the true enormity is a simple statement -- in the United States one suicide occurs on average every 14 minutes."
Miller spoke to the feelings of helplessness that can arise for anyone grappling with the topic of suicide and its hourly impact.
"The strong complement to that statement that brings significant hope into the equation is our knowledge that suicide is largely preventable. Many people don't think of it as such, but when we know more, when we learn even a few basic facts about suicide, everyone can help prevent it."
National Suicide Prevention Week's theme for 2013 is Challenging Our Assumptions and Moving Forward Together.
Learning the warning signs is a strong first step. Depression, mood swings, and intense anger are emotional red flags. An abrupt improvement after a period of sadness and withdrawal can signal concern. Also important is listening, and taking note of repeated statements of hopelessness, failure, feeling trapped, or increased talk about death or dying.
A common myth is that people who talk about killing themselves won't do so, but this is untrue. Many attempts are preceded by references to death, suicide, and wanting to die.
If you are feeling suicidal please immediately call VT 2-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For mental health assistance please contact your local mental health agency or provider.