September is Suicide Prevention Month
Over the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals throughout the United States and around the world. Within this broader public health emergency, ongoing systemic racial inequities and health disparities have come to the forefront within our communities. These challenges have impacted the health, safety, and well-being of the broader population, as well as taken a significant and disproportionate toll on sub-populations, including health care and other essential workers, as well as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
Beyond the physical impact of COVID-19, issues of job loss, financial insecurity, racism and bias, social isolation, and heightened stress and uncertainty should be acknowledged as risk factors for mental health challenges, as well as suicide. It is important to underscore that at this current time, there is no conclusive data suggesting that suicide rates have increased as a result of the pandemic. However, this is a critical time to promote and protect our mental health and wellness, just as our global community is taking specific actions to maintain our physical health.
In the United States, September is acknowledged as Suicide Prevention Month, with the week of September 6th-12th identified as National Suicide Prevention Week. Around the world, September 10th is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day. The goal of suicide prevention events is to draw attention to this public health challenge and provide tools to make it easier to notice when someone is struggling and to offer support.
This year’s theme of Working Together to Prevent Suicide is particularly fitting as we think about the importance of being connected to others and having a sense of belonging as protective factors for suicide. In this time of physical distancing, we have seen schools, worksites, health and behavioral health care services, and the media adapt and innovate to stay connected and preserve the continuity of information and services as best as they can. Individuals, families, neighbors, and friends have found creative ways to be there for one another, reinforcing the role that we all have in offering hope. Over the past year, collaboration at the statewide level has also helped advance the efforts of Governor Wolf’s Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Through public listening sessions, the stories, experiences, knowledge, and research shared was used to inform the goals and objectives of the new Pennsylvania statewide suicide prevention plan.
We all play a vital role in preventing suicide and saving lives. The impact of suicide can and does affect everyone. In recognizing Suicide Prevention Month, we can amplify the voices of those affected by suicide and take this important opportunity to spread the message that help and resources are available.
Thank you for your willingness to work together to prioritize suicide prevention and save lives.
Organizations across the state of Pennsylvania continue to work together to provide mental health and suicide prevention education and awareness events. Jana Marie Foundation, Garret Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant, Prevent Suicide PA, and the Pennsylvania Network for Student Assistant Services are proud to provide this informational packet to help you build awareness and take action to prevent suicide within your community.
About Jana Marie Foundation
Jana Marie Foundation harnesses the power of creative expression and dialogue to spark conversations, build connections, and promote mental wellness among young people and their communities. The organization envisions communities working together to knock down walls and transform emotional distress into resilience and hope. Jana Marie Foundation is located in Centre County, Pennsylvania. https://janamariefoundation.org
About Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant
The Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant is a five-year federal SAMHSA grant awarded to the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) at the Department of Human Services. The project targets youth ages 10-24 and provides awareness, training, and screening activities to increase identification and improve continuity of care for youth at risk of suicide.
About Prevent Suicide PA
Prevent Suicide PA supports those who are affected by suicide, provides education, awareness, and understanding by collaborating with the community to prevent suicide, and reduces the stigma associated with suicide. The organization envisions having a Commonwealth where every life is valued, that everyone has the support necessary to get help when needed, and that hope and healing abounds in every person. http://preventsuicidepa.org/
About Pennsylvania Network for Student Assistant Services (PNSAS)
The mission of the Pennsylvania Network for Student Assistance Services is to provide leadership for developing a safe and drug-free environment and mental health wellness in schools and communities across the commonwealth. Barriers to learning will be removed and student academic achievement will be enhanced through collaborative prevention, intervention, and postvention services. http://pnsas.org/