September marks National Suicide Prevention Month – a month where we come together as a nation to commit to making suicide prevention a national priority. It is also a month to remember the lives lost to suicide, support the millions of Americans who have struggled with suicidality, and acknowledge the individuals, families, and communities that have been impacted.
Suicide is a public health crisis that affects millions of Americans and touches every community. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and the second cause of death for children, teens, and young adults (ages 10-34). In 2019, one person died by suicide every 11 minutes. Still, millions more people consider or attempt suicide. In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. While all communities are affected by suicide, some populations are disproportionately impacted –including American Indian/Alaska Natives, LGBTQ+ youth, veterans, and increasingly, Black youth.
As our country continues to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, risk factors for suicide are exacerbated such as depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, isolation, loss of employment, and financial instability. Now, more than ever before, it is time to prioritize suicide prevention. To effectively prevent suicide, a public health strategy is needed in which multiple approaches are implemented to both treat and prevent suicidality.
SAMHSA is a proud partner of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s public-private partnership for suicide prevention, and joins the Action Alliance in working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention every day. SAMHSA administers multiple grant programs dedicated to preventing suicide and advancing the three priority areas for the National Strategy -- transforming health systems, transforming communities, and changing the public conversation.
Following are SAMHSA grant programs that address suicide –
- The Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention Program supports states and tribes with implementing youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies in schools, educational institutions, juvenile justice systems, substance use programs, mental health programs, foster care systems, and other child and youth-serving organizations.
- The Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention Grant Program supports colleges and universities with developing a comprehensive, collaborative, well-coordinated, and evidence-based approach to enhance mental health services and prevent mental and substance use disorders; promote help-seeking behavior and reduce negative public attitudes; and improve the identification and treatment of at-risk college students so they can successfully complete their studies.
- Grants to Implement Zero Suicide in Health Systems supports health systems to implement the Zero Suicide model. The Zero Suicide model is a comprehensive, multi-setting approach to suicide prevention that is designed to raise awareness of suicide, establish referral processes, and improve care and outcomes for such individuals who are at risk for suicide.
- National Strategy for Suicide Prevention grants support states and communities in advancing efforts to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among adults age 25 and older.
- The Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program (Native Connections) supports federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native tribes, tribal organizations, Urban Indian Organizations, or consortia of tribes or tribal organizations in preventing suicide and substance misuse, reducing the impact of trauma, and promoting mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native youth through the age of 24 years.
- Crisis Center Follow-up grants support National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Centers in promoting continuity of care and safeguarding the well-being of individuals who are at risk of suicide.
- COVID Emergency Suicide Prevention grants support states and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in advancing efforts to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among adults age 25 and older.
SAMHSA also oversees the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is the nation’s only technical assistance center whose mission is to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The SPRC provides technical assistance, training, and resources to assist states, tribes, organizations, and individuals to develop suicide prevention strategies.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is accessible via the toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for anyone who may be struggling with suicide. Next July, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be accessible by calling the new, easy to remember three-digit number, 9-8-8.
This month, and every day, SAMHSA is committed to prioritizing suicide prevention. We would like to thank our grantees and partners in coming together to advance suicide prevention efforts across the country over the past year, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.
Together, we can work to prevent suicide.