National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2021

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2021

Throughout September, we recognize and raise awareness on suicide prevention. Suicide, an often sitgmatized and taboo topic, is a common reality facing colleges and universities today. September provides an opportunity for campus leaders to raise awareness on suicide prevention, promote available on-campus resources, and review their short and long-term efforts to foster a culture of well-being and inclusion. Below we will highlight the important work a few national organizations are doing in September as well as share a few ideas for leaders to implement.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) uses this month as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. Its goal is ensuring that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention and to seek help. Throughout the month of September, NAMI will highlight “Together for Mental Health,” which encourages people to bring their voices together to advocate for better mental health care, including a crisis response system. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month helps spread awareness, promotes open dialogue, and initiates change.

National Suicide Prevention Week, in the United States, begins on September 5 and ends on September 11, and is observed annually to educate, inform, and spread awareness to the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. This week aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide, and encourage support surrounding suicide prevention. Suicide prevention week is important because it spreads awareness, helps prevent suicide, reduces stigma surrounding mental health, and fosters compassion in people. This week is critical for people to reflect, educate themselves, raise awareness, and look out for others. 

Since 1975, this week has been sponsored by The American Association of Suicidology and usually falls on the World Suicide Prevention Day, regionalized globally and annually on September 10. According to AAS’ website, Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the US and it ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds. This is why this week is so important for colleges and universities to spread awareness, supply resources, have check-ins, and offer help.

World Suicide Prevention Day has been observed on September 10th since 2003, initiated by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Listed on IASP’s website, the new theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2021-2023 is: “Creating Hope Through Action”. People can participate by reaching out to loved ones, discussing mental health, and searching for helpful resources, which can be found on any of the websites tagged.

IASP Additional Resources:

How Your Institution Can Participate

Here are some powerful examples of how colleges and universities can foster a culture of well-being and inclusion on campus:

  • Increase knowledge and mental health resources around campus buildings such as dormitories and lecture halls.
  • Host mental wellness workshops in person or via zoom. 
  • Post mental health resources on social media accounts. 
  • Host mental health check-ins through campus Resident Assistants (RA). 
  • Educate students, faculty, and staff on the warning signs.
  • Require students, faculty, and staff members to complete mental health education programs to learn more about this topic.
  • Provide free therapists and mental health classes on campus.
  • Plant yellow and orange or purple and turquoise flowers, flags, or windmills, to raise awareness (these colors signify suicide prevention awareness around the world). 
  • Encourage campus members to reach out to each other and recognize warning signs.
  • Have a crisis text line number and share it around campus. 
  • Sponsor events to raise awareness such as a suicide prevention awareness marathon or fundraisers. 
  • Make sure your students, faculty, and staff feel supported during this month and all year round. 

Although September provides an opportunity to focus efforts around suicide prevention, it’s critical leaders develop a comprehensive strategic plan to help educate faculty, staff, and students on well-being as well as effectively promote available resources for those seeking help.

If you're interested in learning more about Mental Health, make sure to check out our comprehensive Mental Wellness Guide, which examines some of the most prevalent mental illnesses on campuses, discusses risk factors, shares statistics on mental health in higher education, and shares strategies on how one can create a positive environment.

For additional mental health resources, check out our other blogs below:

If you or someone you know are suffering from a mental illness crisis, please seek help immediately. Please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 911.

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How Vector Solutions Can Help

Vector Solutions offers a variety of employee and student mental health-related courses that help institutions raise awareness, identify risk factors and warning signs, and provide strategies to users on how to create positive environments.

Through peer presenters, student testimonials, and scenarios, students, faculty, and staff will learn the following from our courses: facts and the scope of mental health, warning signs and risk factors, ways to respond to mental health emergencies and/or suspicions, and methods to help create a positive environment.

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Contact us for more information