Content Warning: This article contains content about suicide and suicidal behavior.
September is a month when I take to heart the importance for reflection and raising awareness of one of the leading causes of death globally, death by suicide. National Suicide Prevention Month, including World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2023) and Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16, 2023) is designed to highlight and promote ways to prevent death by suicide.
Since the pandemic, depression and suicidal behaviors have risen at an alarming pace. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that one person died by suicide every 40 seconds.1 Between 2000-2021, suicide rates in the United States increased by approximately 36%.2 While just one life lost to suicide is reason enough, these numbers heighten the need to shine a spotlight on the very real human souls impacted by suicide and the strategies for prevention.
During the month of September, as I think about individuals I know whose lives have been either impacted by or lost to suicide, I am also reminded of the power of a functional medicine approach to mental health and overall well-being. Root cause analysis and modifiable lifestyle interventions such as sleep, stress reduction and management, nutrition, physical activity, and connection play a critical role in the multimodal approach to mental health care.
I feel buoyed by the realization that life-supporting, even life-saving approaches to mental health care can change the trajectory of not only the individual but also their family and friends when we ensure greater access to functional medicine training and greater access to functional medicine care for patients worldwide. Today, this week, this month, I encourage you to reflect on those you may have lost to suicide and support those who are impacted by suicidal behavior. And if you are experiencing signs of burnout or suicidal ideation, I urge you take care of yourself, seek outside assistance, and remember that caring deeply for yourself is critical in order to care for others. We need you.
Thank you for carrying the banner high for functional medicine and its power to support mental wellness. Your impact goes beyond the individual to a family, a community, and a world. Below, you will find suicide prevention awareness resources and functional medicine clinical insights and pearls to support you personally and as a healer.
- Call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. LEARN MORE
- Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or text “HelpLine” to 62640 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine. LEARN MORE
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: National Suicide Prevention Week. LEARN MORE
Yours in health and healing,
- Mental health and substance use: suicide data. World Health Organization. Accessed September 11, 2023. https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/data-research/suicide-data
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Facts about suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed May 8, 2023. Accessed September 11, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/index.html