Suicide Prevention Awareness Month:
Know How to Make a Difference
Waterbury, VT– September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the state’s mental health and public health officials are asking all Vermonters to take this time to learn about the supports available for themselves or people they know who may be at risk of suicide.
Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Vermont, and the second leading cause of death among Vermonters ages 15 to 34.
Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health Alison Krompf stated that suicide prevention is a primary concern for the state. “Far too many of us have experienced these losses firsthand,” said Krompf. “Reaching out, staying connected, checking in with each other – all of these are important pieces in how we care for one another. Our sense of community in Vermont is strong and enduring, and each of us play an important part in reducing the risk of suicide.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of additional challenges and stressors, from isolation to the ability to access and provide direct services, especially for people who are suffering or living with additional risk factors.
Krompf noted that the key to successful support ranges from the use of professional services, to building and maintaining community connection, to projects like Zero Suicide that involve all touch points throughout the healthcare system and society. “We understand the need to ensure we have supports and services available, which is why we are emphasizing the importance of our statewide network of community mental health workers and community-based partners. The goal is for Vermonters to have help available anytime and anywhere.”
“Being present and knowing how to recognize the warning signs when someone is in crisis can make the difference between tragedy and a loved one getting the help they need,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “Just as we have seen with the substance use crisis, it’s important for families, friends and peers to be there for the people you know and love. Suicide is a complex problem, which means preventing suicide must occur at the individual, interpersonal, community and societal levels.”
Vermonters can tap into a broad range of resources, including the state’s network of local designated and specialized service agencies, and national services such as the Trevor Project and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provide 24/7 support.
“Suicide is not just a mental health issue; it’s also a public health issue. Let’s take this opportunity to normalize the way we connect around our mental health needs,” said Krompf. “A quick call, a short message – these small acts matter.”
If you, or someone you know is thinking about or planning to take their own life, there is help available:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support. In an emergency, you can also call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department. Visit vtspc.org/suicide-resources/get-help/ for additional resources.
- Text the Crisis Text Line – text “VT” to 741741 anywhere in the U.S. about any type of crisis. Get immediate counseling and support through text messaging.
- Trevor Project: LGBTQ+ Crisis Lifeline: 1-866-488-7368
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 Press 1
- 10 community mental health centers located around the state offer crisis services and ongoing supports. Go to mentalhealth.vermont.gov/individuals-and-families.
- Talk to a family member, friend, health care provider, a faith leader, teacher or coach
Asking someone about suicide, or talking about it, does not increase the risk of suicide. Whatever the concern, it is important to talk with children, teens, and young adults early, listen non-judgmentally, and offer help when someone is struggling or comes to you for support. This connection can give them a chance to discuss it again in the future.
For Health Department data and information about suicide and injury prevention, visit healthvermont.gov/health-statistics-vital-records/surveillance-reporting-topic/injuries.
- Suzanne Legare Belcher, MSW
- Agency of Human Services
- Field Services Director
- Newport and St. Johnsbury Districts
- 100 Main Street, Ste 120, Newport, Vermont 05855
- 1016 US Route 5 St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819
- Text/call ~ (802) 585-5488