More than 36,000 Americans die by suicide every year and it is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. While often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances, suicide is far more involved than that. The factors that contribute to any particular suicide are diverse and complex, and bullying is increasingly becoming a major contributing factor.
I am joining with my colleagues on the Senate’s Mental Health Committee to help disseminate public information about suicide prevention. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a website (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) and a toll-free number (1-800-273-TALK), and which seeks to create awareness about the dangers of bullying and give emotional support to those who may be contemplating suicide.
Several years ago, the parents of a popular honors’ student in New York spoke with reporters following the death of their son, who had committed suicide:
“With his passing, the family has been let in on one of society’s best-kept secrets: People kill themselves. Kids kill themselves. And then no one talks about it.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The Lifeline’s national network of local crisis centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night.
Most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions, but are often hesitant to seek help. The most effective way to prevent a friend or loved one from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors that put people at risk for suicide, take warning signs seriously and know how to respond.
“Change can start with us,” said Senator Roy McDonald, Chairman of the Senate Mental Health Committee. “Suicide is a personal tragedy; however, it is also a public health problem that deserves our attention and our legislative leadership.”