A Leading Cause of Death
According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and has resulted in over 47,500 deaths in 2019. This number doesn’t include the number of people who thought or attempted suicide — 12 million American adults seriously thought about it, 3.5 million planned an attempt, and 1.4 million attempted to take their own lives.
Suicide impacts all age groups — it especially impacts those between ages 10 and 34, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for this age group. For those aged 35-44 years old, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death.
Many factors are attributed to increased risk for suicide. For instance, people who have experienced bullying, sexual violence, violence, and substance abuse have a higher suicide risk. Groups such as veterans, LGBTQ+, and those who work in particular industries also have a higher suicide risk.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health struggles, we have many resources to provide you with the necessary help.
What is a Survivor of Suicide?
A survivor of suicide is someone who lost a friend or family member due to suicide. Shape the Sky founder Ryan Klingensmith is a survivor of suicide. He lost two individuals in his life from suicide. He’s experienced hurt, loss, and unanswered questions about suicide prevention. There were no visible red flags for Ryan, as he was not near these individuals before they died by suicide.
He experienced these losses before current technology and social media. Today, red flags are more visible on social media. If someone comes across a concerning post online and notifies a person that can help, they could get help. Because people can connect on social media and the internet without being physically close to each other, people can help those struggling with mental health without a physical barrier. An example of a youth who reported a concerning post is Gabe. He reported concerning content posted on Snapchat and as a result, the person struggling was able to get help.
Suicide Prevention Training and Resources for After a Loss
These prevention and training resources are useful to inform individuals and spread awareness about suicide and warning signs.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
That National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is dedicated to helping individuals who need help or want to know how to help someone with suicidal thoughts. They have a crisis line that's available 24/7, 365 days a week, by contacting 1-800-273-8255. Additionally, there are resources for finding a therapist or support group for youth, disaster survivors, veterans, and more.
Crisis Text Line
The Crisis Text Line is a great resource for those who need help with suicidal thoughts and prefer to text over talking on the phone. This resource is particularly used by youth. Their service is available 24/7, 365 days a week, and connects individuals with crisis counselors. The text line number is 741741.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)
IASP hosts World Suicide Prevention Day every year in September. They organize many activities individuals can participate in to help raise awareness and prevent suicide.
Prevent Suicide PA
Prevent Suicide PA is an organization dedicated to helping those affected by suicide through education, awareness, and community collaboration. They offer online trainings for professionals that work with youth, and they host yearly PSA contests.
Star Center is the only comprehensive youth suicide intervention center in PA and one of the first centers in the nation. Star Center is led by Dr. David Brent and Dr. Mary Margret Kerr to specifically address issues around youth suicide and provide training for preventing and treating suicidal behavior.
The Trevor Project is an excellent resource for LGBTQ+ youth struggling with bullying. The organization has an immediate support chat, call, and text line for crisis counseling 24/7, and they share resources for coming out and building healthy relationships.
ULifeline is an online mental health resource for college students. They share information about alcohol and drugs, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, depression, eating disorders, and other mental health topics. There’s also a screener to determine one's levels of anxiety, depression, and more.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
If a friend or family member has passed away from suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers a variety of resources for navigating life immediately after a loss, connecting with other survivors, and finding ways to honor those who passed.
Explore a variety of resources offering tools, guides, and forms to navigate suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. These resources are great for students, teachers, communities, and professionals.
Crisis Action School Tool Kit on Suicide (CAST-S)
Montana’s CAST-S offers tools, guides, and forms for schools about suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention (after a loss). This resource was co-authored by Dr. Scott Poland and Dr. Donna Poland in collaboration with Montana OPI, SAM, DPHHS, Big Sky AACAP, and NAMI Montana.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)
The SPRC offers a host of resources for schools, communities, students, and teachers on what to do after losing a student to suicide.
QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer Training)
The QPR Institute has developed the QPR training for individuals, organizations, and professionals to prevent suicide. You can also take their trainer certification course to be a certified program trainer.
Suicide Safe is a mobile app offering a suicide prevention learning tool for primary care and behavioral health providers. It’s a great tool for those who need to discuss suicidal ideation with someone but would feel more comfortable with conversation starters to help ease the discomfort of a sensitive topic.
Suicide Contagion and Media Guidelines
Suicide contagion is when one person’s suicide influences another to have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. These resources talk about reporting suicide red flags and how to respond to sensitive issues in media.
Reporting on Suicide
Reporting on Suicide shares best practices and recommendations for reporting on suicide. This guide shares how to provide media coverage and minimize the potential for contagion suicides.
What does social contagion mean? How can you prevent it? In this article from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, they answer these questions and provide resources from the National Institute of Mental Health, MentalHealth.gov, and SAMHSA.
Suicide clusters are defined as multiple deaths in close succession and proximity with one another. Suicide clusters have happened in the Silicon Valley, Herriman High School in Utah, Stark County Ohio, Downignton East High School in Chester County, Battle Ground School District, and college campuses.
13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series, based upon a book by Jay Asher, is about a teen who died by suicide and the events that occur after. This series is concerning as it could lead to suicide contagion; however, the data is debatable.
13 Reasons Why Tool Kit
Suicide prevention experts developed this tool kit to help those respond to the 13 Reasons Why series and get help if needed. Shape the Sky founder does not recommend the book or Netflix series for youth as there are many misnotions about the psychology of suicide.