September is an important month for suicide prevention. World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2016) and National Suicide Prevention Week (September 5–11, 2016) provide us with opportunities to encourage people who are struggling with suicidal behavior to seek help, to assist friends, family members, and helping professionals in supporting individuals who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and to expand the numbers of people who are actively engaged in suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
But these goals require more than just shouting our messages from the rooftops or designating a day, week, or month to focus attention on suicide prevention. They require an informed and serious conversation. For far too long, conversations about suicide—if they took place at all—have focused on hopelessness, despair, and inevitability. But both research and practice show us that suicide can be prevented. We know that individuals at risk for suicide can overcome this risk and live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives. And we know that applying evidence-based practices and delivering comprehensive and integrated prevention programs can reduce the rates of suicides in populations. September provides us with an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to changing the conversation about suicide from one of despair and inevitability to one of hope, health, and resilience. We can frame our messages to encourage hope. We can remind people at risk that there is hope. We can remind friends and families that there is help. And we can remind clinicians and other care providers that they can help.
There is hope, for everyone. For those dealing with mental health issues, and to those dealing with childhood abuse. As long as there is a tomorrow, there is hope.