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The 11th Leading Cause of Death in the United States September 2023 is Suicide Awareness Month

Updated: 2 days ago

Too many people know someone who has suffered from a friend or loved one’s suicide. The 11 leading causes of death (heart disease and cancer are the number 1 and 2 cause of death in the United States. There were 48,000 suicide deaths in 2021 (1 death every 11 minutes) The estimated deaths for 2022 is 49,500. There were 1.70 million suicide attempts. The age-adjusted suicide rate in 2021 was 14.04 per 100,000 individuals. The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. In 2021, men died by suicide 3.90x more than women. On average, there are 132 suicides per day. White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2021. What is even more stark is that in 2021, 12.3 million adults seriously thought about suicide and 3.5 million adults made a plan. Publicly available data on the 48,000 suicides:

 ~38,000 were male and ~10,000 were women;

 ~17,000 were 25-44 years old;

 ~15,000 were 45-64 years old;

 ~10,000 were >65 years old;

 ~7,000 were 10-24 years old;

 ~37,000 were white;

 ~5,000 were Hispanic or Latino;

 ~3,700 were black or African American.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a report in 2016 that stated that an average of 20 veterans die from suicide per day (~7,300 per year). Other studies, released in 2022, found that as many as 44 veterans die on average per day from suicide when accounting for overlooked causes of death related to self-harm behavior, which is almost 2.5 times greater (~16,000 per year) than the official estimate. If there is any positive news, 94% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented. Click on this link for more information.

So, what is being done to help this crisis? A national, 24/7 suicide and crisis hotline has been established. ‘988’ is now the three-digit dialing code that routes callers to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (or 988 Lifeline). On July 16, 2022, the Lifeline transitioned away from the National Suicide Prevention Line reached through a 10-digit number to the three-digit 988 Lifeline. It is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant). Callers who follow the “press 1” prompt are connected to the Veterans Crisis Line. A Spanish Language line is available by pressing 2 when calling 9-8-8, and more than 240 languages are supported through a Tele-Interpreters service. Callers now also have the option of following a “press 3” prompt to be connected to a counselor specifically trained in supporting LGBTQI+ callers. The total United States budget for suicide prevention is difficult to determine as monies are spread throughout so many government agencies.

The 988 number is really the focus to allow people in crisis to readily access trained help. The 988 line does have funding of $200 million through the Department of Health and Human Services. In the latest public survey (2022), we take an early pulse on public awareness of 988, the new Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, explore expectations for 988 and access to using crisis services, and assess the impact of unified suicide prevention messaging efforts over time. The survey found that gains have been made in valuing mental health, but, maybe more importantly, a perception that there is not consistent societal support for mental health care. We find a strong desire to help but also strong uncertainty about the best ways to do so. And we learn that access to care is seen as the leading barrier to getting help. Overall, the survey indicates that progress has been made, but there is more to do.

We must continue to learn more about suicide and mental health, particularly through increased research efforts, teach everyone how to help prevent suicide strengthen mental health, and advocate for improved access to care and robust crisis services. When people call, text, or chat with the 988 Lifeline, they are connected to trained counselors who are part of the existing 988 Lifeline network, made up of over 200 local crisis centers. These counselors are trained to provide free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress and connect them to resources. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States. Veterans Suicide Veterans have been disproportionately impacted by suicide. As was stated, some reports indicate that veteran suicide is 44 veterans per day.

The primary mission of the Veterans Crisis Line, reached through the 988 system is to provide confidential suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to veterans, active-duty service members, National Guard/reserve members, and their families. The VCL is available 24/7. The VCL maintains a qualified staff of responders who are ready to help veterans deal with their personal crises. "Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered nearly 4.4 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis more than 138,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in more than 511,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to more than 150,000 texts." The phone number for the Veterans Crisis Line was changed to 988 in July 2022. It was anticipated that calls to the crisis line would increase in the following years due to this easier access.

The sad fact is that the United States’ suicide rate continues to increase. The number of people who die from suicide continues to increase year after year. No place is this more evident than with our United States military with what some say is a shocking 44 Veterans a day. The positive news, in 2022, 94% of adults surveyed in the United States believe suicide can be prevented. There are myriads of studies and conferences on suicide prevention every year, all with positive intent. To help further suicide prevention. The sad reality is that there is a limited immediate answer to the suicide crisis except to provide easy access to trained counselors for those people in crisis through the 988 Hotline. If you see a loved one or friend struggling, reach out to them. Let them know you care and that you are there. The World Change Coalition ( was founded and is focused on helping women facing the challenges of breast cancer. However, we believe that helping all people is the ultimate good.

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