The month of September brings with it a somber look at the unfortunate reality of death by suicide. September 10th marked World Suicide Prevention Day (the World Health Organization reports that every 40 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide), and here in the U.S., the entire month is dedicated to National Suicide Awareness.
Did you know that suicide was the second-leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 10 to 34 in 2016? Sadly, there has been an alarming rise in suicide rates in the United States in the past twenty years, and we all need to take notice and do our part in helping those around us that may be in need.
Just look at these terrifying statistics reported in January 2019 by the American Psychological Association:
30% increase in suicides deaths in the U.S. between 2000 and 2016
50% increase in suicides among the U.S. female population (2000-2016)
21% increase in suicides among the U.S. male population (2000-2016)
Another very disturbing statistic is that an average of 20 U.S. veterans commit suicide every single day!
Fortunately, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention bill in March of this year. His press release states: “This bill seeks to improve VA care by bolstering the VA's mental health workforce and increasing rural or hard-to-reach veterans' access to VA care. Additionally, this bill supports President Trump’s recent executive order on veteran suicide by funding alternative treatments from community-based organizations.”
Several other senators have rallied around him and jointly penned the Suicide Prevention by Eliminating Excessive Digits Act (SPEED Act) just this summer: “The SPEED Act requires the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to designate a 3-digit dialing code for veterans in crisis.” In essence, the new code will replace the current Veterans Crisis Line number (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) to create an easier, more accessible way for veterans, and other Americans in crisis, to reach help, in the same way that 911 has made emergency calls easier to dial.
Navitas Data Sciences, a Division of Navitas Life Sciences, is a supporter of Veterans Brotherhood, Inc., a local Lehigh Valley Organization that offers support in many forms to veterans that are struggling or experiencing various challenges as they transition back into civilian life.
Veterans Brotherhood, Inc. also offers a wonderful mentoring program. They have four certified mentors and a therapist on their all-volunteer staff. For those who need someone to talk to, it is a blessing to have one-on-one therapy sessions available with fellow veterans who have a deep understanding of what they are going through.
Experiences during military service often heighten anxiety and other crises, and there are many resources available for those who may be in need of support. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has an amazing website that directs the user to virtually every kind of help available, not just for vets, but also for disaster survivors, loss survivors, youth, Native Americans, and anyone experiencing depression or other mental health concerns.
Another gift to those dealing with anxiety and other mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorders, are psychiatric service dogs, providing comfort and support that humans sometimes can’t. These amazing animals complete specialized training courses and are endorsed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and can legally travel on planes with their owner and be allowed in restaurants. We were honored to be visited at our Pennsylvania Navitas offices recently by a service dog accompanying one of our brothers from the Veterans Brotherhood.
Suicide survivors often share that if someone had reached out and just listened, they may have not gone through their attempt. #BeThe1ToBeThere is a campaign by Mental Health America, the nation’s leading community-based organization dedicated to mental wellness. They encourage us all to get involved and listen without judgment when friends share their pain. Another wonderful resource is Depression.org. Often, we want to help, but we don’t quite know-how. Their website is a wealth of invaluable, helpful information.
So as you rake fallen leaves this September, count your blessings, and think about how you can help those around you who may need a shoulder to lean on, a set of ears willing to listen, a hug, or just a smile as they are passed on the street. You never know when the smallest of kind gestures may make someone’s day or even prevent them from doing harm on an especially challenging day.