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Resources available to help prevent suicide

Vermont’s suicide rate is 34 percent higher than that of the U.S. as a whole

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the Vermont Department of Health says it is “recommitting to a comprehensive public health approach to preventing suicide” in the state.

“This has been a year of extraordinary stress,” the department stated in a news release. “People are anxious, feeling isolated, and have pressures that can be difficult to navigate. All of which, for too many, may contribute to factors that may lead to thoughts of self-harm.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is an increasing public health crisis that took more than 48,000 lives in the U.S. In 2018.

As of Sept. 4, 2020, 72 people have died by suicide in Vermont this year. Over the last 10 years, the number of suicides in the state has increased, with the current rate 34 percent higher than that of the U.S. as a whole.

To honor the friends, loved ones, and fellow Vermonters lost to suicide, and all who have been affected, the Health Department wants to remind everyone that “suicide is preventable. And it’s critical that people who are struggling — often in private — know that they matter, and help is available.”

Asking someone about suicide or talking about it does not increase risk. Whatever the concern, it is especially important to talk with — and listen to — children, teens, and young adults early, and to offer help when someone might be struggling or comes to you. This connection can give them a chance to discuss it again in the future.

Suicide is preventable. Learn about the warning signs at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide, and if you or someone you know is thinking about or planning to take their own life, there is help, day or night:

• Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support.

• In an emergency, you can also call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department. Visit vtspc.org/suicide-resources/get-help for additional resources.

• Text the Crisis Text Line — text “VT” to 741741. Get immediate counseling and support through text messaging.

• Call the Trevor Lifeline: LGBTQ Crisis Lifeline: 866-488-7368.

• Calls the Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press 1.

• Visit one of the 10 community mental health centers located around the state offer crisis services and ongoing supports. Go to mentalhealth.vermont.gov/individuals-and-families.

• Talk to a family member, friend, health care provider, a faith leader, teacher, or coach.

For more information, resources and data about suicide prevention in Vermont, visit healthvermont.gov/suicide.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #579 (Wednesday, September 16, 2020). This story appeared on page A6.

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