September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to reflect on helping those who lost hope
By Bill Monning
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. Even prior to COVID-19, the nation’s suicide rate had reached historic highs with rates at levels not seen since World War II. In addition to fears about our own health and safety, the pandemic has brought to our communities heightened economic and social pressures, creating “a perfect storm,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association study released this past April. The study cites social isolation, decreased access to a support system, and barriers to mental health treatment as psychological risk factors that have been heightened over the last six months.
Despite this tragic set of circumstances, there is hope. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. The National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests that it is also “a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.” By using this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, increase awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services, we can all make a valuable difference in someone’s life.
As a way to break down barriers to treatment, California now allows mental health professionals to conduct therapy sessions via telehealth – meaning clinicians are just a phone or a Zoom call away. Toll free hotlines are also available.
Seniors who are suffering from social isolation can utilize the Friendship Line, where they can call anytime to engage in a friendly conversation.
For those students who are also suffering, the California Department of Education (CDE) recently launched a free online suicide prevention training program.
The devastation that suicide causes in families and communities is heartbreaking. No one is immune to this public health crisis. Suicide is preventable and we all need to work toward a solution. Suicide has touched many of us and through the sharing of a story we can break down a stigma that so frequently accompanies discussion of suicide. It is critical during these trying times to not lose sight that we are part of a community and the importance of extending ourselves to others.
If you or someone you know is in crisis: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you want more information about suicide and mental health: NAMI – www.nami.org. If a senior needs a warm conversation: Friendship Line 1-888-670-1360. If a student or parent needs guidance: CDE online suicide prevention program, LivingWorks – www.livingworks.net.
Bill Monning is a California state senator for district 17, which includes the South Valley region
- Community Voices by William Carlson: Morgan Hill man warns against appointing sheriffs, let voters keep control - October 15, 2020
- Women Leaders … with Kelly Barbazette: GECA senior learned early she enjoys taking on leadership roles - October 15, 2020
- Community Voices by Angelina M. Gutierrez: Despite the challenges during pandemic, students strive to learn online - October 15, 2020