Suicide Prevention Awareness Day: 988

Too many people today face suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need:

  • In 2020 alone, the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes.
  • For people aged 10 – 34 years, suicide is a leading cause of death.
  • From April 2020 to 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses.

Yet, there is hope. A new, simpler number for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – 988 – is available to provide free confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Anyone can call or text 988 for a direct connection to support if they are experiencing mental health-related distress – whether thoughts of suicide, mental health, substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People also can call or text 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 

The new number will instantly connect people to a crisis center within the national network of more than 200 crisis centers, including one in Arkansas. They will chat with a trained counselor who will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

Risk factors

Courtesy of 988 Lifeline, here is a list of factors that have been found to increase the likelihood of suicide attempts:

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and a simple action like sharing the new 988 Lifeline number may provide hope to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health-related distress. By raising awareness, reducing the stigma, and encouraging action, we can help reduce the instances of suicide and help people get the support and care they need.