September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Be aware of heightened strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic

This content is provided to Johns Hopkins employees through a partnership with mySupport and Resources for Living.

As we recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month this September amid the coronavirus pandemic, we know that the added economic stress, social isolation, loss of loved ones, and hardships that accompany the pandemic cause even more of a strain on people. Suicide prevention is more important now than ever.

It is a time to raise awareness on this global health crisis and work to remove the stigma. By simply learning more about mental health issues and suicide, you can make a difference. Take steps to decrease the stigma by changing how you talk about mental health and suicide.

In addition to shifting public perception, it is a time to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. The goal is ensuring that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and seek help. Talking about suicide may feel uncomfortable, but we can all learn, take action, and help save a life.

Why we need to take action:

  • Suicide ranks among the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide for all age groups.
  • Worldwide, over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. That's about one person every 40 seconds.
  • In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. It takes more lives than homicide, war, and natural disasters combined.
  • For every completed suicide, there are 25 attempted by others.
  • It's estimated that most Americans will experience a suicide-related loss in their lifetime.

What we can do:

  • Ask and listen. Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide does not plant a seed. It lets them know you care enough to reach out and opens the door for effective dialogue about their emotional pain and what next steps need to be taken.
  • Be there and let them know you'll help them. Talk with them and let them know they're not alone.
  • Keep them safe by putting time and distance between the desire to take their life and the means to end their life. If there is immediate risk for suicide, call 911 or take the person to the nearest emergency room.
  • Help them connect with support. That may be helping connect the person to mental health treatment; helping them find a doctor or therapist; or linking them with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255), or text line, 741741, or other community supports. Work with them to develop a safety plan.
  • Follow up and provide ongoing support. Knowing you care and want them to get the help they need can be lifesaving.

People who have attempted suicide can help save the lives of others by telling their own story. Sharing lets people know that they are not alone and shows that recovery is possible. If done safely, it can encourage people at risk to seek help.

It is important to feel comfortable talking about suicide. Understanding the how and why around suicide risk could help save a life. If you want to learn more about mental health resources and how you can help raise awareness, consider these resources.

National suicide resources

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website or phone line 888-333-AFSP (2377) is a valuable resource for research education and current statistics on suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website and phone line, 800-273-TALK (8255), provide 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones, and best practice for professionals.

Stop a Suicide offers a free interactive suicide risk inventory that immediately connects those who are concerned about suicide risk in themselves or others with crisis intervention counselors or emergency services.

Suicide Prevention Resources Center provides consultation, training, and resources to enhance suicide prevention.

Talk Saves Lives Training

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has developed an interactive online training to help prevent suicide. The Talk Saves Lives online tool is designed to help you understand suicide and know the warning signs. Then you can start the conversation. To start the training visit your member website (username: JHU; password: JHU). Under Find Prevention Resources, select Talk Saves Lives Online Training. For more information about Talk Saves Lives, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

Mental Health First Aid

If you want to learn more about suicide, stigma, mental health issues, and what you can do to help, consider signing up for a mental health first aid course by going to the Mental Health First Aid website. Through education, you can help make a difference.

Hopkins-specific resources

If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can reach out to mySupport for professional support from a licensed counselor 24/7, 365 days a year. mySupport provides confidential counseling for up to five visits at no cost for Johns Hopkins employees and household members.

Visit the mySupport webpage for additional information and resources to help understand and prevent suicide. Click on the tab September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

Articles, videos, and resources to help understand and prevent suicide are available on the Resources for Living website (username: JHU; password: JHU).

Track mood with myStrength, a behavioral platform that provides self-care resources to manage and overcome challenges with depression, anxiety, stress, balancing intense emotions, and COVID-19. Create an account at using access code JHU. Then download the myStrength app from Apple or Google Play; log in with the email you used to create the account.

Make your mental well-being a priority. Johns Hopkins' employee assistance program, mySupport, is here for you—and your household family members—24/7, 365 days a year. Call mySupport at 443-997-7000 for free, confidential help and referrals for any emotional or mental health concerns you may have.

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