September marks the National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, calling for organizations nationwide to emphasize the need to know more about the tragic phenomenon that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims is the 10th leading cause of American deaths.
This week, Sept. 9-15, is also Suicide Prevention Week. It surrounds the World Suicide Prevention Day designated by the World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention that took place Sept. 10.
Linda Lambert, a licensed professional counselor and the clinical director of Marie Detty Youth Services, said that it is important to learn the signs related to a potential suicide. Common signs include being in a deep depression, withdrawing from life, giving up treasured items, pushing friends away and staying isolated.
"Another thing would be talking about the act and giving hints, like not being able to see the future or saying, 'I wish I were dead,'" Lambert said. "Those things don't always mean they are thinking about suicide, but they are things that you shouldn't ignore."
In 2009, suicides accounted for 36,909 deaths in the United States, according to the CDC, and about 465,000 people received medical care for self-inflicted injuries.
An issue that arises is the stigma that is associated with mentioning the topic. Lambert said even though people stray away from communicating about the act, talking about it can provide relief.
"It's kind of a myth that if you ask someone if they are feeling suicidal or if they are wanting to commit suicide, it will put that idea in their head," she said. "When someone can say, 'Yeah, I am thinking about this,' it can take some pressure off of them. What is shareable is bearable."
The Department of Defense is also attempting to increase suicide awareness. Throughout September, under the theme "Stand by Them," the Pentagon will seek to inform soldiers and their families about how to intervene if a crisis arises.