According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and the 2nd leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults ages 10-34. It’s also the 9th leading cause of death in Tennessee, and in 2019, an estimated 1,219 Tennesseans died by suicide. While these statistics are alarming, it’s important to know that many suicide deaths are preventable. Providers can offer vital support to people who experience suicidal thoughts or have engaged in suicidal behaviors. Below are some helpful reminders and resources:

  • Asking about suicide does not make someone have suicidal thoughts. Asking about suicide opens the door for you to provide support and resources to those who may need it most.
  • How we talk about suicide matters. Many commonly used terms are stigmatizing, such as saying someone “committed” or “completed” suicide. These terms imply that suicide is something to be accomplished.  Instead, consider using terms like someone “died by suicide,” “suicide death,” “suicide attempt” or a person who is living with or experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
  • For patients who are at risk for suicide, safety planning is an effective tool to support them during short-term periods of elevated risk. A sample safety plan can be found here, and a clinical guide for conducting safety planning can be found here.
  • As a part of safety planning, restricting access to lethal means is a critical component of keeping individuals safe during high risk periods. Safe firearm storage is a critical piece of means restriction. Lock2Live is an excellent decision tool that is freely available to help someone engage in safe firearm storage, and CALM is a clinician-focused program to support counseling individuals in lethal means restriction.
  • There are evidence-based psychotherapy interventions for managing suicide risk and self-harm. A comprehensive list of resources and tools for suicide prevention are available from the SPRC.

There are 24/7 crisis support resources available for individuals who need help during crisis, including:

  • The National Suicide Prevention lifeline (1-800-273-8255), Crisis Text Line (text “TALK” to 741741)
  • Trevor Project hotline (1-866-488-7386), and the Trevor Project Text Line (text “START” to 678678)

For more information about suicide prevention, look to these organizations: