Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicide shirt

Nationally the month of September is known as the “back to school season” for most of our population’s youth and even college students, but did you know that September 2015 is also National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month? By offering resources and awareness, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month empowers individuals to discuss suicide without increasing the risk of harm. Many students are probably wondering what does suicide prevention have to do with me? How can I prevent or spread awareness about something I have no prior exposure to in my life? Nationally, suicide is a leading cause of death among university students in the United States, taking more than 1,000 lives on college campuses per year.

Here are some very frightening and saddening statistics about suicide:

  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year (CDC)
  • An estimated 250,000 people each year become suicide survivors (AAS)
  • 1 in 100,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year (NIMH)
  • 7 in 100,000 youth ages 15 to 19 die by suicide each year (NIMH)
  • 7 in 100,000 young adults ages 20-24 die by suicide each year (NIMH)
  • The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning and suicide attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults aged 30+ (CDC)
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year old Americans (CDC)
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, while homicide is ranked 16th (WHO)
  • Worldwide suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-44 (WHO)

Every time I hear statistics like these, my heart wrenches. These people, if only they knew how much they were loved. If only everyone read, researched or studied suicide risk factors and protective factors, we might be able to decrease the amount of loss that happens all across our country due to the suicides of so many individuals. Please join with me and share these tips below with your friends and families.

Risk factors for suicide refer to characteristics that are associated with suicide. 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone about their plans, or give warning signs. People who are affected by one or more risk factors may have a greater probability of suicidal behavior. Some include, but are not limited to:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Substance abuse or dependence (alcohol and other drugs)
  • Other disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, eating disorders)
  • Hopelessness
  • Loneliness
  • Social alienation and isolation, lack of belonging
  • Anger, hostility
  • Perception of being a burden (e.g., to family and friends)
  • Interpersonal difficulties or losses (e.g., relationship breakup, dating violence)
  • School or work problems
  • Financial problems
  • Physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse (current and/or previous)
  • Chronic physical illness or disability
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Family history of suicide or suicidal behavior
  • Parental mental health problems
  • Family violence or abuse (current and/or previous)
  • Family instability and/or loss
  • Lack of parental support
  • Limited access to effective care for health, mental health, or substance abuse disorders
  • Stigma associated with seeking care
  • Exposure to media normalizing or glamorizing suicide

Protective factors are characteristics that reduce the likelihood of suicide. They can buffer the effects of risk factors and include, but are not limited to:

  • Positive beliefs about and hopes and plans for the future
  • Internal locus of control, i.e., feeling like one has an impact on one’s world and the world of others
  • Self-esteem
  • Spiritual beliefs or regular church attendance
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that affirm life and discourage suicide
  • A sense of responsibility to family or friends, not wanting to hurt family or friends
  • Physical activity, especially aerobic activity
  • Family: Support from and connectedness to family, closeness to or strong relationship with parents, parental involvement
  • Friends: Social involvement and support from friendships and romantic relationships
  • Teachers, mentors, and other adults, such as student group leaders, coaches, faith leaders, and workplace supervisors: Concern, understanding, and caring
  • Supportive and inclusive peer and mentor environment
  • A sense of connectedness to school and of belonging within the school community
  • Involvement in extracurricular activities, e.g., joining a student club or organization
  • Monitoring and control of alcohol use

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-237-TALK (English) or 1-800-628-9454 (Spanish). The Lane County Public Health Department also has a program called, Prevention Lane, where you can call Sandy Moses at 541-682-3650 to talk about ways to help either someone you love or yourself. NCU also has free, completely confidential counseling services right here on campus. The counseling office is located on 13th Ave. on the first floor of the Education and Counseling Building, to schedule an appointment stop by the office or contact Rachel Morse by phone at 541-349-7470 or email

If you are interested in supporting or advocating for suicide awareness, there will be an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk in Eugene, OR in Alton Baker Park on October 24, 2015.  Please remember and share, “You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you” (Romans 5:8).

Sources and Further Information:

“I’d Punch Suicide Right In The Face” Shirts: These shirts were created by World Champion Boxer Akayla “The Native Knockout” Devereaux and her brother A.J “FOG”  Devereaux in loving memory of their brother Garrett “Heavy Hands” Devereaux. This article is also in memory of him. Rest in peace Garrett.

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