OPINION: Suicide awareness deserves more than just one month

Depression is put on the forefront of September, but needs to be talked about year-round.

Photo Courtesy of shattered.art66 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Depression is put on the forefront of September, but needs to be talked about year-round.

The beginning of school, start of fall and  preface of cold weather are just some of the defining characteristics of the month of September. However, this time of year also marks the beginning of Suicide Awareness Month. Throughout September, you can expect school assemblies, segments on tv and constant social media posts calling attention to suicide prevention. As important as raising awareness is, maintaining the messages shared is just as critical. It seems as though just as September ends, so does the attention for suicide awareness. But, as the overall 12th leading cause of death in America, this topic needs to be talked about year-round. 

According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 21 million adults nationwide have experienced the symptoms of depression at least once in their life and there are about 1.2 million suicide attempts per year. These alarming numbers aren’t exclusive to one month and had there been more talk on Suicide Awareness outside of the 30 short days in September, some of these tragedies could have been prevented. Talking about suicide opens the gateway for open conversations to identify the problems and solutions to help those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. If we only dedicate a singular month to specifically pointing out how to help someone in this situation, suicide awareness will only come across as yet another issue that just flows in one ear and out the other. 

Suicide awareness is especially important to address within schools. The National Institute of Health recorded that suicide is the second leading cause of death in individuals from the ages  10 to 14, and the third leading cause of death in individuals ages 15 to 24. This alarming statistic begs the question: how do we prevent these tragedies from continuing to happen? Frequently, suicide is deemed an ‘uncomfortable’ subject that most people avoid talking out, but educating people to identify signs of depression, learning how to help someone struggling and giving someone the resources they can access to get help are all things that could save a life. If these things are easily accessible and constantly encouraged, millions of lives could be impacted. 

A friend, family member, teacher, neighbor or anyone else you know could be struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. If we only put our focus on one month of so-called ‘prevention’ what are we really stopping? As a society, we need to reaffirm the fact that there is help available all of the time, and actively work to educate how to prevent suicides. A few moments of encouragement could stop a lifetime of pain. 

Photo Credit: “Depression” by shattered.art66 is licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0)