According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates in the U.S. have increased by around 36% between 2000 and 2021. This alarming figure highlights the importance of suicide prevention initiatives. Yolanda Graham, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, is emphasizing the role we can all play in preventing suicides.
“We can all play a role in preventing suicide. Reach out, ask questions, and offer support if you know someone is hurting,” said Dr. Graham. “You do not need to be an expert. Be there to listen and show that you care—it can make a world of difference.”
During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is joining other organizations in spreading the word about actions everyone can take to provide help, healing, and hope to those who are struggling.
Starting a Conversation
Dr. Graham suggests initiating conversations about mental health without using technical language or jargon. Instead, asking people to rate their mood or thoughts of self-harm on a scale of 1 to 10 can provide a sense of the intensity of those thoughts.
Supporting those struggling with their mental health also involves consistent communication. “Schedule time to check in on the person regularly. Consistency is key and will allow you to detect changes in their mood or behavior,” advised Dr. Graham.
Supporting LGBTQ Individuals
The Trevor Project’s 2023 survey revealed that 41% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Dr. Graham highlighted the importance of providing inclusive spaces where LGBTQ individuals feel safe, seen, and heard to counteract the stigmatization and mistreatment they experience daily.
“The Trevor Project’s 2023 survey also found that having at least one supportive person in the lives of LGBTQ youth reduced their risk of suicide by 40%. Creating safe spaces in our schools and communities is critical to saving lives,” Dr. Graham explained.
In Crisis? Call or Text 988
If you’re feeling distressed, reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Connect with a trained crisis counselor who can provide support and guidance. This confidential and free service is available around the clock. You can call or text 988, or chat at 988lifeline.org. Remember, help is just a conversation away.
Devereux’s Specialty Mental Health Services
Devereux has a long history of helping individuals and families in need. They provide innovative programs and services for children, adolescents, and adults with emotional and behavioral disorders in community and residential settings.
“Remember, suicide is not inevitable. Reaching out to a family member, friend, or doctor can help you take positive action and turn feelings of hopelessness into hopefulness,” said Dr. Graham.