State Public Health Department urges awareness, education during National Suicide Prevention Week

CHICAGO, IL –Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and fluctuates between the second and third leading cause of deaths among adolescents in Illinois, but Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck says that suicide is a preventable public health threat, and that greater understanding and assistance for those in crisis is needed.

September 8-14 marks the 39th annual National Suicide Prevention Week, and today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Globally, almost one million die from suicide each year –about one death every 40 seconds. An estimated 5 million living Americans have attempted suicide. In Illinois, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall, and the estimated cost of suicide and medically treated youth suicide attempts in Illinois is $539 million.

“It is essential to bring awareness to the public health threat of suicide. Suicide is preventable. It is critical to let those who are in crisis know that they are not alone, and that help is available,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, there are resources available to help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.”

Other Illinois suicide statistics include:

· More than 1,000 die by suicide each year—exceeding the number of deaths by homicide or HIV.

· Thirteen percent of suicide deaths occur among youth ages 15-24.

· Suicide rates are four times higher for males than females.

· Firearm suicide deaths account for 39 percent of suicides.

· In 2007, IDPH released the first Illinois Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan which included key recommendations to reduce suicide and its stigma through awareness, education and collaborative support efforts with organizations statewide. Since then, IDPH launched the “It Only Takes One” suicide prevention public awareness campaign, and last year received a federal youth suicide prevention grant to administer training to middle schools, high schools and institutions of higher education on how to identify, approach and refer students showing signs of psychological distress.

Experts agree that being aware of warning signs and listening to those in distress can be helpful in mitigating suicide. While some suicides occur without warning signs, 8 out of 10 suicidal individuals give some sign of their intentions. An easy-to-remember mnemonic for suicide warning signs: IS PATH WARM?



• Expressed or communicated ideation

â—‹Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or

â—‹ Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or

â—‹Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary


Substance Abuse

• Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use



• No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life



• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time



• Feeling trapped (like there’s no way out)



• Hopelessness



• Withdrawal from friends, family and society



• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge



• Acting reckless or engaging in risk activities, seemingly without thinking


Mood Change

• Dramatic mood changes

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the “It Only Takes One” website at for more information.