Suicide Awareness

The Importance of Suicide Awareness

As marketers and consultants within the behavioral healthcare industry, MGMT Digital recognizes the importance of mental well-being and awareness. Many of us have personal experience with substance abuse or mental health struggles. I, personally, have experience with suicide attempts, both my own and with close family. That is why, during National Suicide Prevention Week, I think it is essential to share my own story and talk about why suicide awareness and open dialogue are vital to combating the stigma that still exists around talking about suicide.

When I was seventeen years old, I attempted to take my own life. This was through a combination of alcohol and prescription medications (not my own), and while it was not something I would say I had been planning, death and suicide were things I thought about often during that time. This attempt was what I later learned would be called a medically non-serious suicide attempt, as I was not hospitalized and did not require treatment. This clarification is important for one primary reason: I was able to hide the fact that I had attempted suicide. While I got in trouble for taking prescription medications that were not mine and underage drinking, this was viewed as a substance abuse issue, and the truth never came out. Due to the stigma around suicide, I thought it was easier to apologize for abusing drugs than it would be to admit I had attempted to take my life. This also means I was able to avoid getting any help at that time.

While that was the only suicide attempt I made in my life, after that, I began self-harming, which continued for about two years. Eventually, on my own, I sought psychological treatment and was (unsurprisingly) diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Even then, I wasn’t in therapy long and mostly attempted to manage these issues on my own, with varying degrees of success. Just last year, after a particularly tough depressive episode, I sought medication for my depression and have been in regular contact with a psychiatrist, which has helped immensely.

I think this story is important to share primarily for two reasons:

First, the stigma around suicide and depression is why I went two years after a suicide attempt without even speaking to a therapist and then over a decade longer without regular treatment. Working in this industry has helped break that stigma for me in numerous ways, but others struggling may not have that luxury. I believe it is essential to share these stories so we can acknowledge no one is alone in these struggles and that help is available, either through treatment or peer support.

Secondly, I think it is vital to acknowledge how lucky I have been. While it is true that the majority of people who are hospitalized as a result of a suicide attempt will not go on to die by suicide, that is considering that people who are hospitalized find treatment. If individuals are able to avoid treatment or hide their attempt altogether, they remain at high risk of making another attempt. Even so, 30% of individuals who have made suicide attempts that resulted in medical care make another attempt at a later date. 

The Importance of Suicide Awareness

Suicide is a major problem throughout the world, with more than 700,000 individuals dying by suicide annually. Beyond that, it is estimated that less than 5% of suicide attempts result in the individual’s death, meaning that there are over 14 million suicide attempts every year. 

While depression or suicidal ideation can be something that impacts anyone, certain population groups are statistically at a higher risk for suicidal behaviors, including veterans, people living in rural areas, LGBTQIA+, people of color, and Native American populations.

Suicide trends are not decreasing and have actually only been more emphasized during the COVID-19 Pandemic. According to the CDC, suicide rates rose 36% between 2000 and 2021, making it the second most common cause of death for people between the ages of 10-14 and 20-34.

Combating the Stigma Around Talking About Suicide

Seattle University defines stigma as a “mark that denotes a shameful quality in the individual so marked” and recognizes that both a social stigma and self-stigma exist when discussing the topic of suicide.

The social stigma around suicide represents how the attitude or prejudices of others may change towards an individual when being labeled as someone who has attempted suicide. This is represented by a 2010 study which indicated that:

  • 62% of adolescents felt that their peers treated them differently after learning about an episode of emotional distress or behavioral disorder, including an attempted suicide
  • 46% of adolescents felt that their family members treated them differently, including “unwarranted assumptions, distrust, avoidance, pity, and gossip”
  • 35% of adolescents felt that school staff treated them differently, expressing “fear, dislike, avoidance, and under-estimation of their abilities”

A self-stigma is equally harmful, as an individual begins to internalize what they perceive as negative stereotypes associated with suicidal attempts or suicidal ideation, causing low self-esteem and a feeling of hopelessness. Fear of the social stigma associated with suicide combined with internalized shame is a significant reason many people do not seek help when having these thoughts. A study published by The British Journal of Psychiatry reported that 83% of patients were aware of the stigma around suicide, with 59% reporting that this stigma made them feel worse.

The only way to remove the stigma around suicide is by having open, compassionate, and understanding conversations around the topic of suicide. While it can this can be an incredibly uncomfortable subject for many, it is a necessary part of the healing process.

How Organizations Are Trying To Help

The World Health Organization recognizes suicide as a priority for their Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), providing evidence-based treatment initiatives to increase awareness and care in countries for mental health and substance use disorders. The goal of the WHO is to decrease suicide rates worldwide by one-third by 2030.

The CDC has compiled a Suicide Prevention Resource For Action, listing evidence-based strategies and policies proven to help reduce suicide rates. These strategies include:

  • Strengthen Economic Supports
  • Create Protective Environments
  • Improve Access & Delivery of Suicide Care
  • Promote Healthy Connections
  • Teach Coping & Problem-Solving Skills
  • Identify & Support People At Risk
  • Lessen Harms & Prevent Future Risk

Implementing a thorough public health approach to prevention is essential to achieving the goal of “no lives lost to suicide” set by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Free Resources For Help

Please know that you are not alone if you are experiencing depression or thoughts of harming yourself. You can reach out to a variety of resources to either talk confidentially about your feelings with someone or to share and learn from others. There is no reason for you to continue to suffer and be prevented from a successful recovery to live a full and content life when psychotherapeutic and psychiatric treatments are readily available.

  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 anytime anywhere in the United States. 
  • The Jason Foundation: A partner of the Crisis Text Line dedicated to youth suicide prevention and support. Text JASON to 741741 to speak with a compassionate, trained Crisis Counselor.
  • 988 Lifeline: Formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, it connects individuals with crisis counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat or by texting 988.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and then Press 1 to be connected to a counselor specializing in veterans mental health treatment.
  • The Trevor Project: A 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678 to find help.
  • Trans Lifeline: A peer support service run by trans people, for trans and questioning callers. Call 877-565-8860 for help.
  • Suicidal Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE): SAVE was one of the nation’s first organizations dedicated to the prevention of suicide. 
  • Society For the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS): SPTS through specialized mental health training programs and resources that equip students, parents, schools, and communities with the abilities needed to help youth build resilient lives, this organization is committed to raising awareness, saving lives, and reducing the stigma associated with suicide.
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center: The only resource center supported by the federal government. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides funding for SPRC.
  • provides information on bullying and how to get help.

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