Press Releases

World Suicide Prevention Day: NAMI Blog Discusses Kurt Vonnegut, Despair and Saving Lives

Sep 09 2010

September 9, 2010

Arlington, Va.— In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, September 10, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) urges public education about mental illness and suicide.

According to The World Health Organization, nearly one million people around the world die from suicide each year.

"More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder and we currently have a mental health crisis in this country," said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick.

"We all need to learn the signs of depression and take talk of suicide seriously," writes Fitzpatrick in the latest weekly entry of the NAMI blog.

Fitzpatrick quotes novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who survived a suicide attempt in 1984 and once expressed a desire to "go as close to the edge…without going over"—and had experienced depression first-hand.

"Though people may feel there is no one with them on [the] edge, the reality is that many have stood in that same place of hopelessness, and many understanding listeners are available on suicide hotlines, at support groups and among mental health professionals," Fitzpatrick writes.

  • Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death in the United States and the third-leading cause of death in people ages 10-24 years.

  • One in four adults, approximately 57.7 million Americans, experiences a mental health disorder in a given year, yet less than one-third of adults receives mental health services.

  • Unemployed persons and veterans are at higher risk of suicide. “We need to hold them especially close,” he writes.

  • Male veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide compared to civilian peers. For the first time since the Vietnam War, the Army suicide rate has surpassed the civilian rate.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or anyone you know is in suicidal crisis or severe emotional distress.

NAMI’s Emergency Room Resource Toolkit with educational brochures around suicide prevention also is available.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy.