Suicide prevention, resources come at critical time

September is National Suicide Prevention Month; a somber reminder of those affected by suicide and an opportunity to end stigmas surrounding brain health (mental health) issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released 2020 statistics that call attention to the growing need for communication and awareness surrounding suicide and suicide prevention.

  • Nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2020. That’s one death every 11 minutes.
  • Suicide rates in 2020 were 30% higher than in 2000.
  • Among adults, 12.2 million seriously thought about suicide.
    • 2 million made a plan for suicide.
    • 2 million attempted suicide.
  • Subpopulations such as veterans, those who live in rural areas, and those in occupations such as mining and construction are shown to have higher-than-average risk of dying by suicide.
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors compared to their peers who identify as heterosexual.

Factors to reducing suicide risk lie within individual, relationship, community and societal levels, according to the CDC. Here in Iowa, there are a variety of resources individuals can use when in need of critical brain health (mental health) assistance for themselves or loved ones.

Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS)

MHDS providers have the resources to help those struggling with brain health issues. All 14 MHDS regions in Iowa partnered to improve Iowans’  mental wellbeing and connect them to professionals who can help. MHDS offers the following types of crisis services, which can be accessed by calling 988 or visiting the MHDS website:

  • Mobile Response.
  • 23-Hour Crisis Observation.
  • Crisis Stabilization.
  • Access Centers.

Your Life Iowa

Your Life Iowa is a program from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and provides free, confidential support to connect Iowans to resources meant to help them get their lives back on track. They offer a 24/7 phone, text or live chat option to help people with issues related to alcohol, drugs, gambling, suicide and/or mental health.

  • Call: 855-581-8111.
  • Text: 855-895-8398.
  • Live chat.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

In July 2022, the phone number 988 was officially designated as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It connects individuals with trained crisis counselors for support related to suicide, self-harm, emotional distress or those looking to support another person going through a crisis. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7 via phone, text or live chat.

  • Call: 988.
  • Text: 988.
  • Live chat.
  • Iowa callers are routed to resources within the state.
  • There is an option for a Veterans Crisis Line.
  • A Spanish-speaking option is available over the phone; currently the text option is offered only in English.
  • If a medical emergency related to a suicide has occurred, call 911.

Whether a person is seeking assistance for themselves or another, having local and state resources such as the MHDS regions, Your Life Iowa and 988 is critical to opening up conversations surrounding suicide awareness and prevention, with the ultimate goal of lowering the number of individuals who die by suicide.