Today marks the official start of National Suicide Prevention Week, with September 10th honored as World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide education, awareness, and prevention organizations worldwide are taking this opportunity to promote a few key themes and messages around suicide prevention, notably:
- Every person has a role to play in suicide prevention. The Lifeline works to empower friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances to recognize the warning signs and know how best approach the topic of mental health or suicide, rather than simply encouraging people thinking of suicide to call the Lifeline. The #BeThe1To campaign campaign works to empower the public at large to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and know how to help someone who may be suicidal. This campaign also reminds us that suicide is a public health issue, and that we all can take responsibility for preventing suicide given the right knowledge and resources.
- Smashing stigma continues to be the mission of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They take the opportunity of Suicide Prevention Week to encourage people to share their stories and experiences, and reject the stigma and prejudice that cause people to suffer in silence. Similarly, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is promoting the power of connection, and openly talking about mental health in everyday conversations.
- Suicide prevention is a year-round effort. While it’s important to bring attention to the topic of suicide during special events and recognition dates, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has launched its #AAS365 initiative that focuses on suicide prevention each day of the year. They advocate continuously spreading awareness, advocating for research funding, developing innovative and effective treatment tools, being kind, and helping to educate others on things like resources and warning signs.
It is heartening to see how each year National Suicide Prevention Week grows in its reach and the number of people participating. It is clear that people are becoming more willing to talk about suicide, reach out to loved ones, and have conversations with others about it. One can see the initiatives outlined above in action and ultimately these conversations provide some of the best hope for reducing suicide rates.
To all the suicide prevention helpline volunteers and staff, researchers and doctors, advocates, people with lived experience, and suicide loss survivors — we thank you for your lifesaving work and for raising your voices this week and all year-round to help save lives.
Did you know that 87% of college students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 39% feel so depressed it is difficult to function? (Source: American College Health Association, National College Health Assessment) DMAX Foundation seeks to improve those statistics by creating social clubs with a mental health focus on college campuses throughout the nation to enable students to talk to each other about how they are doing, and to help each other.
DMAX Foundation was started by Laurie and Lee Maxwell, after the tragic loss of their son, Dan, to suicide at the age of 18. Dan had been plagued with mental and emotional pain for eighteen months, without relief, before he took his life. He tried to get better in every way possible. He and his family saw physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, tried medications and dietary changes, and conducted tireless research. One thing the Maxwells were not able to do is speak out. It was too difficult to confide in friends and relatives about what was happening inside their family.
Thus DMAX, named in Dan Maxwell’s honor (DMAX was the nickname his teammates gave him), was founded to eliminate stigma and encourage safe and caring conversations about mental and emotional issues in our youth. To accomplish these goals, DMAX is establishing Clubs on college campuses which provide environments for all students to get together and talk about how they are doing, how their friends are doing and how they can help each other. DMAX Club officers get the opportunity to build valuable leadership skills, are trained to recognize mental health emergencies, learn how to listen (versus give therapy), and extend the campus’ mental health resources by making referrals to the Counseling Center. While other college mental health organizations emphasize the importance of having conversations about mental wellness, DMAX is putting it into practice, providing the space and the tools for Conversations That Matter to take place.
DMAX Foundation is currently focused on establishing clubs in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas, with a plan to expand all over the country in the future. DMAX Clubs have been recently established at Penn State University and Drexel University, joining Elon University, which began in spring 2016.
You can help DMAX establish clubs throughout the nation by:
- Joining DMAX’s mailing list
- Making a tax-deductible donation
- Attending DMAX events in the Philadelphia area
- Sponsoring one of its events
- Connecting DMAX Foundation with schools and students interested in starting DMAX Clubs
For more information about DMAX Foundation and opportunities to get involved, visit www.dmaxfoundation.org
Guest Blogger Kris Kelley serves as the Outreach and Administrative Coordinator for the DMAX Foundation.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, marking the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week. During this week, millions of people will be speaking out about the impact suicide has on individuals, families, and communities, raising awareness and promoting messages on how best to prevent suicide. So many caring organizations worldwide will be adding their voices to this important message. In order to make the biggest and deepest impact, it’s helpful to unite around a common theme and messaging to amplify our voices.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is leading the way with a host of resources and information on their website to help organizations rally around a centralized theme of being there for others, a theme several well-known suicide prevention organizations have been promoting this year.
It’s a very simple yet powerful message, and it helps reinforce what we already know: Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and we can all do something to help prevent suicide. Those of us who have worked at suicide prevention helplines know how effective the simple act of listening is. Just by being a sounding board, a safe place for someone to air their darkest thoughts without facing judgment, you can save a life. When a person knows that someone is willing to listen and offer their help or support and not be scared away by talk of suicide, they feel less isolated and alone with their thoughts, and can envision a better path forward.
In addition to rallying around messages of being there, the Action Alliance also encourages everyone to use #NSPW in their social media posts. This will boost all of our messages and ensures the topic trends online and receives the attention it deserves.
Visit the Action Alliance website for all the materials you need to participate. They have sample social media posts you can use, frames for your Facebook profile pic, and more.
Together we can bring lots of attention to National Suicide Prevention Week, and show people in need that they are loved, supported, and have a place to turn when needed.