September Suicide Awareness: A Month of Understanding


Daphne Renoux

September is a month to raise awareness about suicide and to help others who have gone through it.

Daphne Renoux, Staff Writer

Suicide is a common tragedy in today’s society, now more than ever. In 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 30 and the fourth cause for people ages 35 to 54. In today’s reality, teenagers are often online, meeting new people and exchanging with others. As a result, cyberbullying has become a big problem and has only added to issues such as physical abuse, bullying in school or at home and verbal abuse. These can become overwhelming for someone and are some of the main causes for suicidal thoughts. Over time, people have organized ways to aid those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. To further this effort, the month of September was dedicated to spreading awareness about the reality of suicide.

In 2004, a suicide prevention hotline was installed to create a nationwide network of crisis centers. If called at 1-800-273-8255, the number will connect callers to a trained crisis worker from their local center who will guide them to try and get them proper support. This phone call will, of course, be confidential, meaning callers can confidently seek help privately. For emergencies, 911 is always an option and will also provide a person with help as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, these are good ways to get help.

Today, statistics show us how common suicide is. For example, in 2018, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the US, claiming over 48 thousand lives. This illustrates why it is so vital to have systems of support such as these set up.

So, why is September called “Suicide Prevention Month”? The long process to raise awareness started in 1958 when the first suicide prevention center opened in South California. This would be the first of many steps taken. In 2001, crisis centers were established nationally and in 2004, a youth suicide prevention grant program named the Garrett Lee Smith Act was passed. Finally, in 2012, the United States create a long-term prevention plan called the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Since then, September has been considered as Suicide Prevention Month and serves the purpose of raising awareness and understanding throughout the country. During this time, people discuss suicide in conventions, share support videos on the web or volunteer at crisis centers.

“I believe the best way to address suicide is with better mental health services in schools and our healthcare system, in general,” senior Sofia Rebull said.

It is important to look out for any signs that suggest that someone may be having suicidal thoughts. Be alert if they mention suicide often, engage in risky behavior or even have severe mood swings. Of course, these are not the only signs possible as everyone is different and reacts in different ways, but one should always be cautious if a friend seems to be in a dark place. It is necessary to remember that suicide is not a myth, as 9.3 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in 2019 alone. This issue is very real, and suicidal thoughts are not something that people can deal with on their own. They need help, and support is something those around them should be ready to provide.

“I would pay attention to them and try to make them feel good about themselves. I would talk to them and understand why they were feeling that way and try to come to a conclusion together to fix the problem,” freshman Steffi Sarmiento-Mena said.

Suicide can be the result of many things. For one, mental illnesses are common causes of suicide. Suicidal thoughts can also be provoked by traumatic experiences in the past or in someone’s daily life, bullying in any kind of form, eating disorders and substance abuse. These are the most prevalent causes, however there are so many different factors because every situation is unique. Even though it might be hard to understand someone’s emotions, one should never criticize a person that is dealing with thoughts of self harm and instead should provide them with as much kindness as possible.

Anyone can help someone that is facing dark thoughts, as long as they do it in a safe and cautious way. It is not easy to get someone out of that mindset and to get them back on their feet, but it is always worth it once they are happy again. Life offers the possibility to fall in love, visit the world, discover it’s secrets, fight for what we believe in and overcome obstacles. Although life may provide challenges, there is always a way to get better. It takes strength, perseverance and determination however, in the end, the reward of joy is greater than any obstacle. Life is a beautiful and precious thing, so during Suicide Prevention Month, take extra care to remind those around that they are loved, appreciated and needed in this world.