DENVER (KDVR) – This coming Sunday is the start of National Suicide Prevention Week, which aims to remove the stigma surrounding discussions of mental health, while at the same time lowering the number of deaths caused by avoidable self-inflicted means.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Colorado Chapter, 45,979 Americans died by suicide in 2020. That figure makes suicide the No. 12 cause of death in the country.

During that same timeframe, 1.2 million suicide attempts were made in the U.S.

These figures are why September has been designated by the National Alliance of Mental Illness as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Beyond a trend

“Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition,” NAMI said. “Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.”

Something highlighted in NAMI’s key fast facts section is, “46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition, but research shows that 90% may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition.”

What this figure shows is that, potentially, there is a large group of undiagnosed individuals who have never pursued medical assistance for whatever reason.

Efforts like the shortening of the national suicide prevention hotline’s number to 988 back in July help, but advocates say a revamp of how society approaches discussions of mental health needs to be undertaken alongside this change to truly see these trends change.

How you can aid in the prevention of suicide

Fixing an entire nation’s ability to broach this topic isn’t something you can do easily on the individual level, but what you can do to make an immediate impact, aside from letting your family and friends know that you are there for them, is volunteering to with the Colorado chapter of AFSP.

Throughout September, AFSP is organizing several walks to raise money, awareness and morale for all impacted by suicide.

Out of the Darkness Walks:

Attendees will be able to participate in the walk, volunteer, sponsor another walker, meet survivors and learn about other ways to get involved in suicide prevention going forward, as they are always in need of more foot soldiers for their life-saving cause.

Remember, if you are suffering from symptoms attached to mental illness, or are simply in the mindset that it is better to turn inward as opposed to reaching out to others with your problems, then know that you are not alone. Please contact 988, the suicide prevention hotline so that you can get the help you need.