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Suicide Prevention Month
#IMHEREFORYOU

Article Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner

September is Suicide Prevention Month (SPM), which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). This month, individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to amplify the message that suicide can be prevented, and that resources are available to support ourselves and others.  

San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) is partnering with the San Mateo County Libraries, Peninsula Library System and community agencies in San Mateo County to host 20 free events and promote the #IMHEREFORYOU: Connection to Suicide Prevention campaign that aims to equip individuals with words and resources to connect with people who may be thinking about suicide. Events include support groups, informational presentations, volunteer opportunities, day of prayer, film screenings and craft workshops.  

“With the support of the Mental Health Services Act, San Mateo County needs to build our suicide prevention community through community education, provider trainings and conversations about suicide prevention.  In general, we need to reduce stigma around suicide, build partnerships and take a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention,” says the co-chair of the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee, Sylvia Tang. 

This year’s theme in San Mateo County is interpersonal connectedness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that connectedness is overall an important protective factor for suicide and states, “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships.”  

You Can Help Prevent Suicide 

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S.  In the last couple of years several well-known figures in the food and entertainment industries died by suicide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the U.S.

 In San Mateo County, the number of suicides increased from 55 in 2017 to 77 in 2018. While this is a tragic increase, the 2015-2017 County rate (7.4 deaths per 100,000) is below the state rate (10.7 per 100,000) in 2015-2017 and national rate (14 per 100,000) in 2017.  

Read the William’s story, a local resident who survived suicide and now volunteers for the local crisis hotline.  

While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. You can make contributions, big or small, including:   

  • Forge connections within your community.  Check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling. Offer your ear, shoulder and support to communicate to them that #ImHereForYou   
  • Learn the warning signs and how to help by visiting suicideispreventable.org or by participating in a local training. For more information on trainings, contact Sylvia Tang (stang@smcgov.org or 650-578-7165) or visit smchealth.org/bhrs/ode
  • Share local crisis hotlines. These are key 24/7 crisis hotlines that would be good to have handy (e.g. on your phone or in your wallet). These resources are there for you whether you (or a loved one) are in a crisis or just want to talk. 
  • StarVista’s Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County)​: 650-579-0350 
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741-741 
  • Promote September Suicide Prevention Month. Attend or spread the word about the September Suicide Prevention Month events. For a complete list of free events, visit smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention
  • Know the resources. San Mateo County has a number of resources available for someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.  Learn more at www.smchealth.org/crisis.  For assistance with seeking mental health or substance use services, please visit www.smchealth.org/bhrsservices or call the BHRS ACCESS Call Center at 1-800-686-0101. 

Join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee

To get involved in  suicide prevention efforts year-round, join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC). The Committee provides oversight and direction to suicide prevention efforts in the County and is comprised of county representatives, community-based organizations and community members. We usually meet the first Tuesday of every month, ​1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. For more information and an up-to-date schedule, contact SPC co-chairs Islam Hassanein and/or Sylvia Tang.

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