September 7–September 13, 2015 was National Suicide Prevention Week: Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives. The week surrounded International Suicide Prevention Day, Wednesday, September 10th.
Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death overall in New Jersey. It is the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 in our state and nationally it is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults. On average, one person dies by suicide every 12 hours in New Jersey. It is estimated that in the US, an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. An estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one.
The statistics are staggering but not surprising to the young people in our program, so many of whom have been touched by the issue of suicide in some way.
The Department of Children and Families supported efforts throughout the state to raise awareness of the devastating impact of suicide. During the week Pathways School Based Youth Services program staff went into the cafeteria and talked to the students about suicide prevention. Statistics and resources were posted for the students to peruse and many students added their reasons to live on the Pathways 101 Reasons to Live poster. We were hoping to get 101 reasons to live, but ended up with over 150 reasons to live in one day. The poster will be displayed in our office space to continue the conversation about suicide prevention.
On October 3rd, Pathways staff and students will participate in the Out of the Darkness walk to raise awareness of the impact and prevalence of suicide. We hope that by participating, we not only add to the numbers of those trying to get attention for this urgent issue, but the young people with us will be less likely to suffer alone and will have the resources to help their peers.