Prevention through connection – National Suicide Prevention Week
Albany, New York (September 12, 2023) - National Suicide Prevention Week begins this year on September 10. This is a week dedicated to bringing awareness to suicide-related deaths that claim the lives of thousands of Americans each year, and inspiring people to learn how to support those in their communities who are struggling with mental health. Suicide is an ongoing public health issue, but numerous online tools and resources are available that can help prevent it.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide rates increased by approximately 36% between 2000 and 2021. In 2021 alone, suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths across the United States, which equates to about one death every 11 minutes.
People of all ages can experience suicidal thoughts, but some groups are more at risk than others. By race, non-Hispanic American Indians and non-Hispanic White populations have the highest suicide rates in the United States. Other Americans with above-average rates of suicide include veterans, people who live in rural communities, LGBTQ youth, and workers in the mining and construction industries.
The CDC identifies several strategies to support those who are at a higher risk of suicide. One such strategy is to develop and maintain healthy connections with others.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) creates connection opportunities for those struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental illness through in-person and online support groups that are open to everyone across the country at no cost.
In these virtual spaces, people can congregate in a safe, positive environment with like-minded individuals to share their challenges and be supported by their peers. In online support groups, participants gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others. They also learn about coping methods and mental health treatment options.
Those who participate will leave with better coping skills, the ability to share experiences, navigate trauma, and develop a more comprehensive understanding of mental health conditions. Most importantly, they learn that they are not alone, and have access to an extensive network of people who want to help.
However, to utilize these lifesaving online resources, people must first have access to broadband. Unfortunately, many families and individuals still lack access to the internet, including 9.45% of rural residents, and 13.23% of tribal residents, both of whom are high-risk populations that are more prone to suicide.
At Connected Nation, our goal is to bring people together. We do this by expanding broadband access across the country and educating communities on how to use the internet, so that everyone can utilize the resources that improve their lives, such as accessing virtual support groups and other mental health related resources.
Written by Connected Nation Research Assistant, Shauna Plath.