National Suicide Prevention Week, May 17-23, 2015

On Sunday begins the 41st Annual National Suicide Prevention Week.

The American Association of Suicidology is behind the week, and I just love their mission statement, with absolutely no messing around: “The goal of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is to understand and prevent suicide.”  There you have it.

They have entitled the mission of this year’s Prevention Week “Challenging our Assumptions and Moving Forward Together,” and they offer a fabulous Information and Media Kit, encompassing suicide facts, how to help a suicidal person, warning signs of suicide–the works.

They have also summed up the week’s purpose more eloquently than I could manage:  “World Suicide Prevention week represents a call for action and involvement by all governments and organizations worldwide to contribute to the cause of suicide awareness and prevention through activities, events, conferences and campaigns in their country. By collaborating together in this endeavor, we can indeed save lives.”

Meanwhile, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has been hard at work preparing for the 10th. Read about activities that will occur around the world, get your own toolkit with banners and brochures, find out about the latest research relating to stigma, mental health and suicidal behavior and ideation–and that’s just the beginning of what you can find on the site.

Before I leave you with this infographic sent in by an astute reader, I do want to note something.  The topic of suicide is always depressing;  the number “1 million” blares out of the infographic, and this blog alone has highlighted the upsetting issue of suicide among the elderly (see our infographic or our post).

But–all the excellent work done by suicide awareness organizations aside–slowly but surely we are making inroads into understanding and preventing death at one’s own hand.  In 2013 alone researchers have made 2 discoveries that might change the face of suicidality.  It was in June of this of this year that the British Medical Journal published an article showing that lithium can  reduce suicide risk.

And then, in a truly amazing discovery, published August 20th in Molecular Psychiatry, scientists found that by identifying a specific biomarker in patients, they could–accurately–predict who would be hospitalized for suicidality. It’s true they can’t tell without a trace of doubt who will suicide yet–but they are on their way.

You don’t need to know the name of the biomarker (I think it was SAT1, if you’re curious), you don’t need to know why lithium is more protective against suicide than lamictal, you don’t need to know about gene profiling at all.  Just take in the information, and, if you feel moved, do just one of the activities presented by the America Association of Suicidology or the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Just one action might–you never know–save a life.

Notes on Suicide: Current Rates and History
Image compliments of Best Masters in Counseling