September is Suicide Prevention Month (SPM), which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). This month, individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to amplify the message that suicide can be prevented, and that resources are available to support ourselves and others.
San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) is partnering with the San Mateo County Libraries, Peninsula Library System and community agencies in San Mateo County to host 20 free events and promote the #IMHEREFORYOU: Connection to Suicide Prevention campaign that aims to equip individuals with words and resources to connect with people who may be thinking about suicide. Events include support groups, informational presentations, volunteer opportunities, day of prayer, film screenings and craft workshops.
“With the support of the Mental Health Services Act, San Mateo County needs to build our suicide prevention community through community education, provider trainings and conversations about suicide prevention. In general, we need to reduce stigma around suicide, build partnerships and take a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention,” says the co-chair of the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee, Sylvia Tang.
Our theme for Suicide Prevention Month is interpersonal connectedness. Studies show that “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships,” making it an important protective factor to prevent suicide.
One San Mateo County community member has said “I wanted to die, and for the first time in my life, I plotted how would be the easiest and most painless way to go. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought. But the pain of not choosing my life and leaving my daughter to fend for life alone was even more terrifying. I chose MY life.” We know that interpersonal connections are a strong protective factor in suicide prevention and this month we want to highlight how we can support SMC in developing those connections.
You Can Prevent Suicide
In the last couple of years several well-known figures in the food and entertainment industries died by suicide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the U.S. Many of us have been personally impacted by the death of someone we know or someone we love. The problem can sometimes seem insurmountable.
While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. You can make contributions, big or small, including:
- Forge connections within your community. Check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling. Offer your ear, shoulder and love to communicate to them that #ImHereForYou.
- Learn the warning signs and how to help by visiting suicideispreventable.org or by participating in a local training. For more information on trainings, contact Sylvia Tang (email@example.com or 650-578-7165).
- Share local crisis hotlines. These are key 24/7 crisis hotlines that would be good to have handy (e.g. on your phone or in your wallet). These numbers are there for you whether you (or a loved one) are in a crisis or just want to talk.
- StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741
- Promote September Suicide Prevention Month. Attend or spread the word about one of the September Suicide Prevention Month events or wear purple or teal. You can reach out to the Office of Diversity and Equity to pick up purple/teal ribbons. For updates and details, please visit smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention.
- Join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. To help prevent suicide year-round, please consider joining the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. The Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC) provides oversight and direction to suicide prevention efforts in the County. The coalition usually meets the 1st Tuesday of the month 1:30-3pm. Meeting schedule can be found here.
If you or someone you know considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.