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Suicide Prevention Month: A Focus on 'Zero Suicides' in Georgia

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Thursday, September 22, 2022   

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to shed light on what continues to be one of the toughest topics to discuss for many people and families.

Almost 1,500 people in Georgia took their own lives in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; nearly 14 people per 100,000 Georgia residents. And of course, every suicide affects friends and family members as well.

Kim H. Jones, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Georgia, said they are working to prevent all suicides.

"NAMI Georgia's mission is to empower our affiliates to be able to support, educate and advocate for people with mental illnesses in their community," Jones explained. "Our goal for suicide is the 'zero suicide,' you know. That is just something that is unacceptable to us."

The theme of this year's awareness month is "Together for Mental Health," focusing on the need for more mental-health resources. Suicide is not just a growing issue in Georgia, but across the nation. The CDC reported in 2020 nearly 46,000 people took their own lives.

In July, the number 988 was rolled out as a new, shorter suicide-prevention hotline, and Jones pointed out it has already led to an increase in calls. Prior to 988, Georgia already had a toll-free number, the Georgia Crisis And Access Line, or "G-CAL." She noted anyone who calls the hotline today is routed directly to 988, where help and resources are available.

"The intention is that you get a live person who can direct you to a physician or clinician, whatever might be needed for you to help you process the situation that you're in," Jones emphasized. "That could be just not feeling well and being depressed, all the way up to suicide, up to crisis."

To prevent suicide, Jones stressed it is essential for people to pay more attention to warning signs and to take note if something seems different with a friend or loved one.

"Somebody who is seriously considering suicide maybe seems depressed for a while, and then all of a sudden, they'll have an uptick of happiness," Jones suggested. "That usually comes from that they have made a decision to act on their suicidal thoughts, and they become relieved and happy. They start giving away prized possessions."

According to the alliance, almost 5% of adults consider suicide at some point in life. Among high school students, the figure increases to almost 19%, and 45% for LGBTQ+ young people.


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