Create Hope through Action; September is National Suicide Prevention Month

posted on Thursday, September 23, 2021

To help raise awareness and start conversations regarding suicide, September is recognized nationally as Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is preventable by learning the warning signs, starting conversations, and helping individuals with suicidal thoughts and feelings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with a 33% increase in suicide rates from 1999 to 2019. At Spencer Hospital, we understand that there is a need in our community to ensure that resources are readily available for mental health needs.

L.E.A.R.N. how you can help prevent suicide

This helpful acronym provided by Family & Children's Services could help save a life.

Look for signs.

  • Talking, joking, or researching about death.
  • Feeling hopeless, depressed, trapped, irritable, agitated, anxious, ashamed, humiliated, or burdensome.
  • Changes in personality, academic/work performance, sleep, withdrawing from friends/activities.
  • Increasing abuse of alcohol/drugs, reckless behavior, giving away possessions.

Empathize and listen.

  • Most importantly, just listen.
  • Listen with compassion, remain calm, avoid judgment, and validate their feelings.
  • Don’t offer quick fixes, tell them everything will be OK, show anger, panic, or ask “why” questions...
  • People who have survived suicide attempts report what was more helpful to them - just listen.

Ask directly about suicide.

  • Ask in a way that invites an honest response. Use any signs you’ve noticed as part of the ask.
  • Be direct. Use the word “suicide” and be prepared for a yes.
  • Asking about suicide does not cause suicide.

Remove the danger.

  • Removing access to items used for suicide is an evidence-based approach to preventing suicide.
  • If they say yes, ask them “Do you have a plan?” “Do you have access to those means?”
  • Lock up & limit access to firearms, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications. In time of crisis, lock up alcohol & drugs, belts, ropes, cords, plastic bags, knives, car keys, chemicals, poison.

Next level of care.

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 or visit Lifeline Chat service at for free and confidential support for people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7.
  • If you are not in immediate crisis but are feeling distressed, please call your healthcare provider to help you and your family members make a safety plan. 
    • A safety plan is a list of coping strategies and social supports that people can use when they are in a suicidal crisis or very distressed.

One way you can help lower the suicide rate is to talk about it. Having open conversations about mental health and emotional struggles encourages people to seek the help that they need.

Local Resources

Avera Medical Group Spencer - Behavioral Health Clinic

Outpatient services at Avera Medical Group Spencer's Behavioral Health Clinic provide professional services from our psychiatrist and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners for your personal needs in a wide range of common behavioral health conditions for adults and children. 

Clinic Hours:
Monday through Friday: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
To schedule an appointment, please call (712) 264-3515.
Website: Avera Medical Group Spencer

Your Life Iowa - Iowa Department of Public Health

Your Life Iowa provides 24/7 free, confidential support for Iowans who don't know who to turn to about concerns with alcohol, drugs, gambling, suicidal thoughts or mental health. offers an online chat option and numbers are available to call or text:

Call: (855) 581-8111 | Text: (855) 895-8398

Seasons Center for Behavioral Health

Seasons is a comprehensive Behavioral Health Center offering a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral health services to the people and communities in Northwest Iowa.

Phone: (712) 262-2922 | Toll Free: (800) 242-5101 | 24/7 Crisis Line: (844) 345-4569


“Protect Your Family: Suicide Prevention Awareness.” Family & Children's Services, Family & Children's Services 2018, 8 Sept. 2020,

  1. behavioral health
  2. wellness