In Tennessee, an estimated 950 men, women, and children die by suicide each year. More people die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or motor vehicle accidents. Suicide is the leading cause of violent deaths in our state, nationally, and worldwide, far above homicide and death due to natural disasters.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee and for the United States at large. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 1,065 recorded suicide deaths in our state in 2015, at a rate of 16.1 per 100,000 population.
In almost all cases, suicide can be traced to unrecognized, untreated, or poorly treated mental illness. It can happen to people of either sex, any race or ethnicity, and any economic status. The average suicide death leaves behind six survivors—family and friends of the deceased—all of who are at increased risk for a suicide attempt themselves. As if the emotional and psychological toll were not enough, suicide and suicide attempts cost the state of Tennessee $1 billion a year in medical treatment, lost wages, and lost productivity.
The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) and its allies in the public health, mental health, and social service fields are joining forces to recognize the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During this annual observance, TSPN and its allies arrange several educational and memorial events across Tennessee. These projects help teach the general public about the problem of suicide and how it can be prevented. They also give us an opportunity to remember those lost to suicide; to encourage survivors of suicide, survivors of suicide attempts, and people who have triumphed over mental illness; and to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to suicide prevention efforts in our state.
As part of this observance, Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady signed a Proclamation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Members of the Grundy County Health Council joined the Mayor in support of the Proclamation. Governor Haslam signed this same Proclamation for the State of Tennessee during TSPN’s annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Day event held in Nashville, which was attended by an estimated 300 mental health advocates and survivors of suicide loss. There, TSPN unveiled its latest “Love Never Dies” Memorial Quilt, part of an ongoing effort to personalize the problem of suicide. This year’s quilt was the largest TSPN has ever presented. Regionally, the VBHCS Project AWARE program is hosting three free Youth Mental Health First Aid classes in September, in Tracy City (September 21) and Kimball (September 21 and 22). The course teaches adults how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health problems in youth ages 12-18, and how to respond to and help a youth experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. To learn more and to register for a class, visit www.vbhcsaware.eventbrite.com .
Details about the Suicide Prevention Awareness Day observance and other events planned across the state will be announced on the TSPN website (www.tspn.org). Additional information about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is available from the TSPN central office at (615) 297-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Mental Health First Aid is available at www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org