SPRINGFIELD — World Suicide Prevention Day for 2019 takes place Sept. 10, during National Suicide Prevention Week, which runs Sept. 8-14. During these awareness events, MHA is working to ensure that everyone in the community knows that there is help — potentially life-saving help — for individuals, families, and people they care about.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) is a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support, 24/7, to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. A toll-free call to (800) 273-8255 routes callers to a trained crisis worker at a local center — someone who can provide help right now.
“While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Week provides a dedicated time to unify efforts and bring education and support to a preventable public-health problem,” said Sara Kendall, MHA’s vice president of Clinical Operations. “We can all benefit from open dialogue about mental health and suicide because just one conversation could save a life. We are participating in this awareness effort to achieve a simple goal: to recognize the public-health problem so people everywhere can talk about it. Through various media, we’ll be dispelling myths, discussing mental health, and encouraging conversations that could be life-saving.”
Among the topics MHA will be sharing is the agency’s commitment to Zero Suicide, a toolkit specifically designed for health and behavioral healthcare. “An MHA team applied to attend the Zero Suicide Academy and were accepted,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president of Resource Development & Branding at MHA. “Our team was trained to implement Zero Suicide at MHA, including the planning and steps to make this a successful initiative for every member of our staff and every person we serve across the agency.”
The Zero Suicide kick-off event, “Recognizing Suicide Prevention: Allies in Arms,” will take place at MHA’s main office at 995 Worthington St., Springfield on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m., which is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Nearly 50,000 people die from suicide each year in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s one death from suicide every 10.5 minutes. More people die by suicide than from automobile accidents or from homicide. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death among all Americans and the third-leading cause of death in the 15-to-24 age group. Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans, and veteran women are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide than non-veteran women.
“During Suicide Prevention Week, MHA is calling attention to our work helping people who struggle with mental-health issues, including thoughts of suicide,” Lee said. “We stand ready to provide services and supports focused on preventing a permanent reaction to a temporary problem. To learn more, call MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health and Wellness Center at (844) MHA-WELL.”