September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

When she was just 13, Sophia began struggling with depression. She had little energy and appetite and trouble sleeping. She tried therapy and medication, and was hospitalized to treat her depression and the impulse to self-harm, but found herself thinking about suicide on more than one occasion.


She found out about 2-1-1 and called to speak to someone during some of her lowest moments, finding their support and kindness to be just what she needed.


“If I was home alone and tempted to self-harm or something … they were always great at talking me through it,” said Sophia.


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources in an effort to raise awareness, reach out to those affected by suicide, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to get help.


Sophia is among the millions of people who rely on 2-1-1 for support and assistance during a mental health crisis or when seeking advice on behalf of a loved one. She is also one of the 16 million Americans who struggles with depression each year, and is part of a generation whose suicide rate has been increasing for the past few years.


Unfortunately, many people who struggle like Sophia are lost to suicide each year—in 2016 nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. And suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Mental illness and suicidal thoughts don’t discriminate. Suicide impacts families across the U.S. regardless of race, ethnicity, income level, or employment status. Many Americans can’t afford life-saving treatments and therapies, while many others aren’t even aware that resources exist or that the symptoms they notice in loved ones are indicative of a mental health crisis.


As we mark National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we at United Way encourage you to learn more about the symptoms and signs of suicide ideation and to seek help if you are struggling.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. If you need assistance finding a local counseling center, therapy option, or other resource, call 2-1-1 to speak to a specialist in your area.


This article was adapted from the blog post World #SuicidePrevention Day: Making the Call for Help from the United Way Worldwide blog.