May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, which exists to help raise awareness and educate the public about the mental illnesses affecting so many Americans as well as the effective strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. Mental Health Awareness Month also exists to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by mental illness, and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
As you may know, my middle grade novel Things You Can’t Say (Simon & Schuster 2020) deals frankly with suicide. Twelve-year-old Drew, the protagonist, had his life upended three years prior when he lost his father to suicide. In the years since, he’s struggled to understand his father, but it’s through the events of one remarkable summer that he begins to see things differently, and to articulate his own concerns and feelings to his family and friends.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. According to the 2017 CDC report, suicide annually claims the lives of over 47,000 Americans. If you have lost a friend or a loved one to suicide, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are countless people out there who understand what you are going through, as well as trained professionals who want to help.
If you or someone you know would like to talk with a licensed mental health professional, consider reaching out to a therapist through:
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
The American Counseling Association
The American Mental Health Counselors Association
The American Psychological Association
The National Association of Social Workers
This national network of crisis centers offers free emotional support, 24/7, including specific resources for kids. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Crisis Text Line
The free 24/7 confidential text message service for people in crisis. Text HOME to 741741 in the United States.
American Association for Suicidology
A nonprofit organization advocating for suicide prevention, which envisions a world where people know how to prevent suicide and find hope and healing.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
AFSP is the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.
The Portland, OR-based National Center for Grieving Children & Families provides support in a safe place for children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death to share their experiences.
Eluna offers resources and programs—including camps—to address the needs of children experiencing confusing emotions in the wake of a loved one’s death or addiction.
National Alliance for Grieving Children
This professional member organization specifically addresses issues about child bereavement and offers continuing education, peer networking, and a national database of children’s bereavement support programs.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
SAVE’s mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, to reduce stigma, and to serve as a resource for those touched by suicide.