1. Suicide is on the rise.

During the past decade the suicide rate in the U.S. has increased to 12.1 per 100,000 (from 10.4 per 100,000). (CDC)

2. Suicide impacts our adolescents, teens, and young adults.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. (CDC)

3. Suicide has warning signs.

The signs can be subtle or more discernible, but most suicidal people do show warning signs before attempting to take their lives. If you notice a new or increased behavior related to a painful situation, loss, or life change, take it seriously. The following signs are indicative of people who could be at risk for suicide:

  • Talk of wanting to die
  • Expressions of hopelessness or having no reason to live
  • Increased anxiety or agitation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Poor sleep habits (too much or not enough)
  • Withdrawal or isolation                                                            spwblog
  • Feelings of being a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Increased rage
  • Looking for methods of suicide attempts, e.g., searching online or buying a gun
  • Talk of feeling trapped or in unbearable anguish
  • Vengeful thoughts
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Giving away personal items


4. We are missing opportunities to prevent suicide.

  • Treatment is successful for 80 percent to 90 percent of the people who seek treatment for depression (using therapy and/or medication) (TAPS study), yet only half of those in the U.S. who experience an episode of major depression seek and receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • Two-thirds of people who die by suicide are depressed at the time of death, yet it is estimated that about 75 percent of children with emotional and behavioral disorders do not receive specialty mental health services. (Emory University; American Psychologist)

5. Suicide can be prevented.

Between 50 percent and 75 percent of people who attempt suicide talk about their suicidal thoughts, feelings and plans before they act. These “cries for help” can be conscious or even subconscious, but they provide a window of time to seek help on their behalf. (AFSP)

6. The right school-based suicide prevention program works. It’s proven.

The SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program addresses suicide risk and depression, while quantifiably reducing suicide attempts.

  • The SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program is the only school-based suicide prevention program to show a reduction in self-reported suicide attempts by 40 percent. (BMC Public Health, July 2007)
  • It is also the only school-based suicide prevention program listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and listed in Section III of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Best Practices Registry.

7. You can help prevent suicide.

  • If you or someone you know exhibits the warning signs for suicide, seek help immediately by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Consider contributing to your local suicide prevention efforts. If you live in metro Chicago, Elyssa’s Mission has volunteer and sponsorship opportunities that help provide the support and funding for critical programming in schools.
  • Become an advocate for implementing the SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program in your local schools. Schools can learn more about this programming by visiting elyssasmission.org or mentalhealthscreening.org/programs/youth. (If you live outside of Chicagoland, you can contact Screening for Mental Health to bring the SOS program to your school — by calling 781-239-0071, emailing smhinfo@mentalhealthscreening.org or filling out the contact form at mentalhealthscreening.org/contact).

(Sources: CDC – Center for Disease Control; SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Suicide Prevention Lifeline; Emory University; Huang et. al. for American Psychologist; AFSP – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; WHO – World Health Organization; AAS – American Association of Suicidology; NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness; NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health; SMH – Screening for Mental Health)