In Tennessee, an estimated 1000 men, women, and children die by suicide each year. More people die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or motor vehicle accidents. Suicide is the leading cause of violent deaths in our state, nationally, and worldwide, far above homicide and death due to natural disasters. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee and for the United States at large. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 1,163 recorded suicide deaths in our state in 2017, at a rate of 17.3 per 100,000 population.
In almost all cases, suicide can be traced to unrecognized, untreated, or poorly treated mental illness. It can happen to people of either sex, any race or ethnicity, and any economic status. The average suicide death leaves behind six survivors—family and friends of the deceased—all of who are at increased risk for a suicide attempt themselves. As if the emotional and psychological toll were not enough, suicide and suicide attempts cost the state of Tennessee $1 billion a year in medical treatment, lost wages, and lost productivity.
The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) and its allies in the public health, mental health, and social service fields are joining forces to recognize the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During this annual observance, TSPN and its allies arrange several educational and memorial events across Tennessee. These projects help teach the general public about the problem of suicide and how it can be prevented. They also give us an opportunity to remember those lost to suicide; to encourage survivors of suicide, survivors of suicide attempts, and people who have triumphed over mental illness; and to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to suicide prevention efforts in our state.
As part of this observance, TSPN’s annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Day event, scheduled for 10:30 AM on Wednesday, September 11th, at Trevecca Community Church, located at 335 Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville. There, TSPN will unveil its latest “Love Never Dies” Memorial Quilt, part of an ongoing effort to personalize the problem of suicide. The Governor Lee and Marie Williams, LCSW, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, have been invited to join an estimated 300 mental health advocates and those with lived experience. Registration for this event is required, and can be done at: https://suicidepreventionday19.eventbrite.com.
Details about the Suicide Prevention Awareness Day observance and other events planned across the state will be announced on the TSPN website at http://tspn.org/awareness-events. For more data on suicide loss, lived experience, and at-risk groups, review TSPN’s 2019 Status of Suicide (http://tspn.org/sost).