September proclaimed as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The governor recently proclaimed September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is not just an individual crisis, it is a public health crisis. More than 500 Arkansans took their own lives last year.

On average, one person dies by suicide every 17 hours in the state. It is the second leading cause of death for Arkansans ages 10-34. Every year, over twice as many people die by suicide in Arkansas than from homicide.

Arkansas ranks 16th in the nation in the number of suicide deaths. For every one individual who takes their own life, three will attempt suicide.

It is important to remember that these statistics are not just numbers, they are people. The numbers represent someone’s mother, someone’s son, or someone’s friend.

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention lists the following as risk factors and warning signs:

If a person talks about:

• Being a burden to others.

• Feeling trapped.

• Experiencing unbearable pain.

• Having no reason to live.

• Killing themselves.

Specific things to look out for include:

• Increased use of alcohol or drugs.

• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means.

• Acting recklessly.

• Withdrawing from activities.

• Isolating from family and friends.

• Sleeping too much or too little.

• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.

• Giving away prized possessions.

• Aggression.

In the most recent session we passed legislation, with unanimous vote, to create the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council. This council serves as a central body on suicide prevention efforts across the state. It works to identify the needs and set priorities based on data driven and evidence based suicide prevention.

Although we will use this month as an opportunity to discuss suicide prevention, we hope every Arkansan will treat every day of the year as a day they can help someone find the treatment they need.

If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of suicidal behavior call (800) 273-TALK.