Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide claims 1 million lives worldwide every year, resulting in one suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide is a preventable cause of premature death on a global level. In 2007, the latest year for which national data are available, suicide accounted for 57% of violent deaths in the U.S.
Suicide is a significant problem in Maine. Maine’s suicide rate among people of all ages ranked 14th highest in the U.S. in 2007. Of 218 violent deaths in Maine that year, 26 (12%) were homicides and 191 (88%) were suicides.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Maine’s young people aged 15-24. Maine lost a total of 104 young lives from 2004-2008, an average of more than 20 per year. In 2007, the rate of suicide by people aged 15-24 in Maine ranked 6th highest in the nation.
Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die and that suicidal crises tend to be brief. Suicidal individuals want to end the pain that they are experiencing. When suicidal risk is detected early, lives can be saved.
Governor John Baldacci has proclaimed September 14 as Maine Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. An event marking youth suicide prevention efforts in Maine will be held from 2-4 p.m. September 14 in the Hall of Flags on the second floor of the State Capitol Building in Augusta. First Lady Karen Baldacci will read the Governor’s proclamation and Muriel Littlefield, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Project, will recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to suicide prevention. Other state and local leaders will speak and urge others to get involved in suicide prevention. Nancy Thompson, a mother whose son Timmy died by suicide in 2004 and a “Maine Connect speaker,” is a featured speaker. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Several Maine businesses are helping to raise awareness of suicide prevention by distributing information to their customers, including: Fashion Bug, Lithgow Library, Marden’s, Bangor Mall Pizza Hut, and Reny’s.
For more information on youth suicide prevention efforts in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/suicide