2016 Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Did you know that, in the United States, one person completes suicide every 12.3 minutes? Or it’s estimated that more than 5 million people in the United States have been directly affected by a suicide? Or that 50% of all persons who die by suicide use a firearm kept in the home?

Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.

In Wisconsin, suicide prevention awareness starts with this number: 755

That is the number of Wisconsinites who died by suicide in 2014, the most recent year for which we have data. That is 4.5 times the number of people who died as a result of homicide in Wisconsin that year.

Here is another number: 6%. That is the number of youth who reported making a suicide attempt on the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. About one youth under the age of 20 dies by suicide each week in Wisconsin.

43: The percent of people who die by suicide who are reported as being in care at the time of their death. These numbers only begin to define the problem, but we also have numbers that help define the solution:

31: The number of health/behavioral health organizations MHA has trained in the past 4 years on the quality improvement practice known as Zero Suicide. Zero Suicide has the potential to significantly reduce suicide among persons seen in behavioral health and health care settings.

23: The number of local health departments that have selected adolescent suicide prevention as a priority area. They are educating their communities on suicide prevention and promoting best practices.

10,373: The number of individuals who utilized HOPELINE, an emotional support texting line, in December 2015 alone. This resource has been utilized by individuals in every county. Users report a significant decrease in stress following contact with HOPELINE.

676: The number of clinicians that MHA trained in Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk, a competency- based training, through a federal youth suicide prevention grant. Upgrading clinical skills is a key component for suicide reduction.

25 (and counting): The number of events that are taking place across Wisconsin over the next two months that provide an opportunity to learn more about suicide prevention. You can learn about these events at: www.preventsuicidewi.org/2016-spawm

While Suicide Prevention Awareness Week (SPAW), sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology, is officially Sept. 5-11, many communities are not able to schedule their events in this limited time frame. Plus, there are a number of other events not specifically related to SPAW that nonetheless are related to suicide prevention that we want you to be aware of throughout the month of September and October.

Event calendar (special events, walks, education) >

   Download September and October events as a PDF

Learn more about suicide prevention efforts in Wisconsin >


Be Aware of the Warning Signs

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Increase alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

Be Aware of the Facts

  • Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal individuals want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems.
  • Most suicidal individuals give definite warnings of their suicidal intentions.
  • Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
  • Approximately 41,100 Americans kill themselves every year. The number of suicide attempts is much greater,
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, and it is the 10th leading cause of death among all persons.
  • The suicide rate is higher among the elderly (over 65) than any other age group.
  • 3.5 times as many men kill themselves as compared to women, yet three times as many women attempt suicide.
  • Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries.
  • Firearms are currently the most utilized method of suicide by essentially all groups (male, female, young, old, white, non-white).
  • Surviving family members not only suffer the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide, they may themselves be at higher risk for suicide and emotional problems.

Ways to Be Helpful to Someone in Crisis

  • Be aware. Learn the warning signs.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.
  • Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow for expression of feelings. Accept the Feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Don’t dare him/her to do it.
  • Don’t give advice by making decisions for someone else to tell them to behave differently.
  • Don’t ask ‘why’. This encourages defensiveness.
  • Offer empathy, not sympathy.
  • Don’t act shocked. This creates distance.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available, do not offer glib reassurance; it only proves you don’t understand.
  • Take action! Remove means! Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis please call 9-1-1 or contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).