Suicide Is One of Tennessee’s Greatest Public Health Threats
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 drunk driving. Suicide is the leading cause of violent deaths in our state, nationally, and worldwide, far above homicide and death due to natural disasters.
Tennessee and for the United States at large. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 945 recorded suicide deaths in our state in 2014, at a rate of 14.4 per 100,000 people.
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 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 to 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, County Mayor Michael Brady signed a proclamation declaring September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. He was joined by Staff Sgt. Brandon Parks of the Det 1, C Troop, RTS/278th Armored Cavalry Unit, Grundy County Schools’ guidance counselor Ashley Thomas, Grundy County Health Educator Sofia Leon-Meza and Volunteer Behavioral Health Project AWARE coordinator Katie Goforth.
Mayor Brady, Staff Sgt. Parks, and Ms. Goforth—along with the Grundy Health Council, Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, 278th Armored Cavalry Unit, Tenacity Adventure Fitness, Tracy City United Methodist Church and South Cumberland State Park—helped organize a running event earlier in the year to raise awareness about suicide among military veterans and to provide information about resources available to Veterans and their families. To raise awareness about the 22 Veterans that die by suicide each day, members of the 278th Armored Cavalry ran from the Military Cross in Sewanee to the Monteagle National Guard Armory—a distance of 22 kilometers—carrying 22 pounds of gear. The Grundy Health Council also challenged the public to complete 22 push-ups and post photos on social media.
Ashley Thomas and Katie Goforth, along with Susan Johnson of Discover Together, conduct Youth Mental Health First Aid classes in Grundy County to teach caring adults how to help an adolescent who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth and a 5-step action plan to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. This year, they trained 75 people in Grundy County to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders, including 55 staff of the Grundy County Schools. For more information about Youth Mental Health First Aid training, contact Katie Goforth at (423) 605-6125 or email@example.com.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This nationwide hotline connects to a nationwide network of certified local crisis centers, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the event of an emergency where someone is in immediate danger of death or injury, call 911 immediately.
For non-emergency information on suicide prevention, contact the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at (615) 297-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The site features fact sheets and statistics about suicide, suicide and mental health reading lists and links, and customized local resource directories available for free download.