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National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

This September, we are observing National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Reportedly, suicide is reaching epidemic proportions within the United States. The demand for hospital beds, excellent psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists has never been more critical. 

A Brief Overview of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Suicide prevention started in 1958, when a suicide prevention center opened to the public in Southern California. Slowly but surely, suicide awareness took the country by storm in the early 1960s. In 2001, the United States published the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. It was revisited and revised again in 2012. This was a pivotal moment for the U.S. mental health movement. 

Understanding Suicide Prevention

To better prevent suicide, we must be educated on the topic. Suicide is more complex than you would think. Let’s go over some key terms:

  • Suicide: The act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally.
  • Suicide attempt: This occurs when someone harms themselves with any intent to end their life, but they do not die due to their actions.
  • Suicidal ideation: This refers to thinking about, obsessing over, or planning suicide.
  • Suicidal tendencies: This typically refers to someone who is “at risk of suicide” and has suicidal thoughts.

An important side note is that people who are considered “at risk of suicide” may have been diagnosed with one or more of the following mental illnesses:

  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Mental Health Movements for Suicide Prevention Awareness

The largest movement for mental health awareness in the United States was coined by Mental Health America. Ever since its establishment in 1908, Mental Health America has gone above and beyond to spread awareness and build resources for mental health, including suicide prevention. 

In 2014, Mental Health America launched the #B4Stage4 campaign to raise awareness for prevention and mental illness. The campaign imitates the stages of cancer, but instead changes them into the stages of mental illness. Stage 1 presents mild symptoms, and stage 4 equates to psychiatric hospitalization or suicide. By reframing the way we think about mental illness, #B4Stage4 is increasing prevention tactics, debunking stigmas, and contributing to mental health awareness.

Suicide Prevention Initiatives in the U.S.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1987. AFSP hosts a catalog of resources for Americans who are having suicidal thoughts. Currently, their campaign for suicide prevention revolves around the commission to “Talk Away the Dark.”

Across college campuses in the United States, the AFSP has garnered support from sororities and fraternities alike. University of Tampa Fraternity & Sorority Life raised over $85,000 for AFSP in 2023, while Butler University’s Sigma Nu Epsilon Mu chapter adopted the AFSP as their fraternity’s philanthropy. In 2013, the Sigma Nu fraternity and Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at the University of Maryland raised nearly $5,000 for the AFSP at their annual volleyball tournament. 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

988 is the new 911. It is becoming more and more apparent that there needs to be a group of first responders trained to intercept suicide attempts. More specifically, Americans need to be able to call on qualified professionals who have been specifically trained in psychological crisis care. Getting sedated by an armed cop may not be the best way to defuse a suicide attempt and could make matters worse in the long-term. 

According to Stephanie Hepburn, editor-in-chief of #CrisisTalk, “...retraining people to call a crisis line instead of 911 allows those in crisis to be treated in the least intrusive manner as opposed to the highest.” Basically, calling 988 provides the person in crisis with more control over their situation (which, in turn, can help them to relax). 


The #Bethe1To movement focuses on taking five steps to proactively prevent suicide. The five steps consist of:

  1. Ask
  2. Be there
  3. Help keep them safe
  4. Help them connect
  5. Follow up

To learn more about the five steps towards suicide prevention, visit #Bethe1To’s website here

Active Minds

Established in 2003 as a 501(c)3 organization, the Active Minds movement reaches a wide national demographic. Though the movement is most present on college campuses, Active Minds has both K-12 initiatives and @Work programs. By bringing mental health resources to school and the workplace, Active Minds prevents crises and increases awareness.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you ask someone with significant depression what it feels like, the answer might not be what you expected. An allegory they might share is the dark pit; a person with depression may feel like they are stuck in a deep, dark pit with no way to get out. There are people at the top of the pit looking down at the person stuck in the pit. The person yells for help, but no one seems to hear. 

This is what depression can feel like: An absence of resources and an abundance of hopelessness. The indescribable despair that torments many individuals is largely to blame for the incline in suicide rates. One way that we can raise awareness for suicide prevention is by sharing helpful resources for those in crisis.

Crisis Text Line

Something that may come as a shock to many is free counseling. It seems too good to be true, right? Hiring a licensed psychologist comes at a price—or so we thought.

For someone with suicidal ideation, intervention is a matter of life or death. Recently, public officials have realized that cell phones are a widely available tool for immediate communication. Suicide prevention tactics have integrated communications via cellular devices through crisis hotlines. For years, local counties have provided free talk therapy from licensed psychologists to callers. Now, callers can be texters through the Crisis Text Line

Thanks to volunteer Crisis Counselors, people experiencing suicidal thoughts are able to get help by texting HOME to 741741. The Crisis Text Line even operates internationally through WhatsApp. 

How You Can Help

When you suspect that your loved one is contemplating suicide, do not hesitate to take action. Suicide does not discriminate and it affects people from every demographic. No one is exempt from the tragedy, which is why we should all do our part in preventing suicide. 

The best thing you can do for them is call your local crisis center, which each county in the United States has.

Contact Jackson House

Jackson House is a voluntary residential program for individuals experiencing the intensity of mental illness. You do not have to go through a crisis alone. At Jackson House, our team of qualified mental health professionals are ready to help. To learn more about what we have to offer, call our main office at 888-255-9280.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.