National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) is hosted annually in the United States, corresponding with the World Suicide Prevention Day hosted by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health. Awareness activities and promotions are held throughout the week, such as the viral “22 push-ups” campaign, with the goal of spreading awareness and advocating for a national conversation on the subject of suicide.
Suicide prevention and awareness first entered the national spotlight in 1958 with the creation of the nation’s first suicide prevention center in Los Angeles, California. In 1966 a National Institutes of Health agency, the National Institute of Mental Health, created the Center for Studies of Suicide Prevention. From the 1950’s to the late 1970’s, suicide rates in youths between 15 and 24 years of age more than doubled. Recognizing a need for increased governmental intervention to combat this frightening national trend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a violence prevention unit in 1983. Additionally, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established a task force to review existing evidence and issue recommendations in 1989.
In the mid 1990’s, a citizen initiated campaign pushed for the development of national suicide prevention strategy. The campaign led to two resolutions being passed in the U.S. Congress recognizing suicide as a national crisis and establishing suicide prevention as a priority in the late 1990’s. As a result, the Reno national conference was held and was considered to being the first effective shift towards better promotion of suicide prevention. Not long after the Reno Conference was held, individuals from both private and public sectors composed the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention document by 2001 which outlined objectives intending to change public views, services, and policies in regards to preventing suicide.
Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in initiating programs tapered for suicide prevention. There is a federal grant program which distributes grants to tribes, states, and other groups to act against college and youth suicide cases. There is also a support program designed for U.S. veterans and is enacted under the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act; this act was made into federal law in 2007. Later in 2010, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention was formed. These past few years has shown that our nation has made great stretches of achievement in addressing the issue of suicide and one can celebrate these efforts by the wearing the purple and turquoise suicide prevent ribbon throughout this week.
If you know of anyone or yourself who believes all hope is lost, please call the
Suicide Prevention Hotline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255)