Protecting the behavioral health and safety of Americans is central to everything we do here at SAMHSA. Preventing the tragic loss of life from suicide is a unique challenge. We have learned that it takes a coordinated effort at all levels, from government to organizations to local communities – down to the individual level. Just being a caring friend or neighbor can go a long way in preventing others from thoughts of suicide.
This week, September 10-16, is National Suicide Prevention Week. During this week, we are highlighting the many ways that SAMHSA supports the national efforts to prevent suicide every day, using a variety of tools, resources, and partnerships.
- Collaboration – SAMHSA works with partners in the public and private sectors to support a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. We work with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and chair the Federal Working Group on Suicide to shape national policy and strategies. For National Suicide Prevention Week, we are collaborating with many partners to promote suicide prevention awareness through social media events and messages, using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
- Care – While word of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline continues to spread, most people are not aware that this life-saving resource is funded and managed by SAMHSA. This year, more than 1.5 million people have called the Lifeline, which is a 24-hour, toll-free confidential hotline. The Lifeline connects callers to one of over 160 crisis centers across the country. Callers who utilized the Lifeline while in crisis have shared that they felt less suicidal and more safe after talking to a Lifeline counselor.
- Community – In addition to our nationwide efforts, SAMHSA grants help states, communities, and health care systems prevent suicide among youth and adults based on the latest scientific evidence. This week, SAMHSA distributed $14.5 million in new grants for suicide prevention, under the Zero Suicide program and the Cooperative Agreements to Implement the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. SAMHSA’s grant programs work. Evaluation of SAMHSA’s Garret Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention grants showed that counties implementing grant-funded activities had fewer youth suicide deaths and attempts than other counties.
- Resources – SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center and its Tribal Technical Assistance Center provide technical assistance to states, tribes, colleges and other organizations. We also work with tribes and tribal organizations through our Native Connections and Campus grants. SAMHSA develops products and resources such as the High School Suicide Prevention Toolkit, the Lifeline’s Warning Signs cards and the SuicideSafe® mobile app, which provides assistance to providers in assessing suicide risk and in locating resources.
One thing is clear: collectively, these efforts to collaborate, provide care, support communities and provide resources save lives every single day. And yet there is still more work to do. Together with local, state, federal and tribal partners, SAMHSA works every day to achieve the goal of zero suicide nationwide.
Help is just a phone call away. If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).