National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in the United States, and it's more important than ever to focus on helping people at risk for suicide among us. A study in 2016 found that the nationwide suicide rate was at a 30-year high, rising to 13 people out of every 100,000. The most important thing for both people with suicidal thoughts and those around them to remember is this: you are not alone. Suicide prevention organizations across the United States and worldwide are working to provide resources and a listening ear during this and every month.
According to the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention,
42,826 people died by suicide in America in 2014, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the country. Data from 2015 shows that suicide was the second-highest cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 15 and 34. LGBTQ people, particularly young ones, are also highly vulnerable to suicide: Research by the Williams Institute has found that, while 4.6 percent of the total U.S. population has reported at least one suicide attempt in their lives, 10 to 20 percent of gay people and up to 40 percent of transgender people report attempting suicide at one point in their lives.
No matter where you come from or who you are, though, suicide can affect anyone — and these organizations are places to turn in times of crisis big and small. Read on for a list of organizations helping to raise awareness and prevent suicide that could use your support.
American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is one of the most prominent suicide-prevention organizations in America. It funds research into the psychology of suicide, advocates for better training of doctors and medical health personnel, and provides chapters across the U.S. for people affected by suicide to find support and community. It's deliberately set up to help as many people as possible, from those who are having suicidal thoughts or have made an attempt to their friends, parents, and loved ones. If you'd like to donate, go here. The Trevor Project was founded to help LGBTQ youth across America who may be struggling. It offers a number of different ways that LGBTQ youth can seek help: a text line, a phone helpline, instant messaging, and a social network for people who are struggling to find mutual support. It's also a source of education, putting together modules, and training programs to help people like school counsellors and teachers know the specific suicide risks related to LGBTQ youth, and how to help them. If you'd like to support the Trevor Project, go here.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a suicide prevention hotline that was launched in 2005. It can be the first line of defense for people who may not have anybody else to talk to and need help immediately, or who simply need to express their feelings and hear a sympathetic voice. They also provide resources for the deaf and hard of hearing, and run a Spanish-speaking network as well. They're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are manned by specially trained counselors at over 160 local crisis centers across the United States. If you need their help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you'd like to support their mission, go here. The Jed Foundation, also known as JED, operates on two fronts: it provides immediate help for those with suicidal thoughts or who have been affected by suicide, and also does educational workshops and training to help young people navigate difficult life changes while taking care of their emotional health. Founded in 1998 by Donna and Phil Satow, whose son Jed died by suicide, the Jed Foundation works with high schools and colleges across the U.S. to help give students emotional coping skills and make mental health a priority on the curriculum. Their aim is to become involved with the lives of young adults before suicidal ideation can occur in the first place. If you'd like to donate, go here.
Veteran Affairs found that around 20 veterans in the U.S. died by suicide every day, and veterans made up 18 percent of all adult suicides. That burden is colossal, and the Veterans Crisis Line is there to help. A 24/7 telephone, text, and chat service specifically for veterans, active duty military personnel, and their friends and family, it has facilities to help homeless veterans and a self-check quiz for those concerned about their own mental health. Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered nearly 2.7 million calls. The VCL is part of the organization of helplines run by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; if you'd like to help their mission, go here.
If you are having suicidal thoughts and are unable to find a private space to call a helpline, feel scared to be overheard, don't feel capable of speaking fluently, or just feel more comfortable expressing yourself via text, there are specific options available to you. One is
Crisis Text Line. It accepts texts from anybody in any kind of crisis, from suicidal thoughts to mood worries or other issues, and immediately connects all texters 24/7 with a trained counselor who will help them manage what they're experiencing. Its founders told the New Yorker that the idea emerged from a situation in which an assault survivor was unable to make a phone call to a helpline. The number, 741741, is designed to be exceptionally easy to input for texters. If you'd like to help them, go here.
Overseas and in crisis, or know somebody outside the United States who needs help?
Befrienders Worldwide is an organization devoted to suicide prevention around the world, with resources available in multiple languages and crisis centers in 32 countries. Befrienders was founded in 1974 and operates using volunteers trained in non-judgmental support. If they don't have local counselors available to talk, they also direct people to international suicide helplines that may be able to help. If you'd like to donate, go here.
The only trans-specific suicide prevention line currently operational in the US & Canada, Trans Lifeline opened in 2014 in San Francisco.
Its founder, Greta Martela, told TIME that "There are a ton of suicide hotlines. There’s no shortage of them. But it’s really difficult to get a person who isn’t trans to understand what it’s like to be trans." All its volunteers are transgender, and it welcomes calls from people who are in crisis questioning their gender identity - and won't call emergency services without the express consent of the caller. If you need to talk, call (877) 565-8860 (US) or (877) 330-6366 (Can). If you'd like to donate, go here.