In Honor of Suicide Prevention Month: Suicide Risk and Prevention

By: Pasquale Vignola, MA, MLP (he/him/his)
Director, Center for Excellence CCBHC Project Director
The Guidance Center

*Trigger Warning: This blog discusses suicide and mental health*

Suicides and suicide attempts have sadly increased in all age groups over the last several years as the world has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, suicide is preventable when we all do our part to watch for warning signs in others and ourselves. Common warning signs include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or feeling hopeless
  • Increased substance use, including alcohol
  • Withdrawal from social activities and isolation
  • Sharp changes in mood or behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Researching methods to end one’s life
  • Buying lethal weapons or stockpiling pills
  • Engaging in self-injurious behavior
  • Making final arrangements (e.g., writing or updating will)

Some statistics regarding suicide as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) include:

  • A rate of 14.5 per 100,000 U.S. individuals
  • 2022 saw the highest ever number of deaths by suicide in the U.S. at 49,500
  • Suicide rates vary by age and gender with men showing higher rates of completed suicides
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals ages 10-34
  • Firearms are the most common method of suicide followed by suffocation (including hanging) and poisoning
  • Many individuals who die by suicide have an underlying mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder

A helpful way to learn more about warning signs of mental health struggles and suicidal ideation is by attending a Mental Health First Aid class. This day-long training was developed by the National Council of Mental Wellbeing and you can find a course near you through:

It’s important to remember that if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s essential to seek help immediately. Reach out to a local mental health professional or call a crisis hotline like 988, or call 911 if in immediate danger.

The Zero Suicide Institute’s website,, has many helpful resources for mental health professionals and non-professionals alike.

For a free suicide screening tool, the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale developed by Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, PhD at Columbia University uses 5 questions that anyone – first responders, teachers, nurses, doctors, therapists, family members, friends – can use with minimal training to assess the level of risk for someone experiencing suicidal ideation:

Nationally, there are now more than 500 community mental health provider organizations designated as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC). These are mental health and substance use service agencies which meet a rigorous set of standards, including service provision and training requirements, and are able to accept people in need of help regardless of their insurance status or the severity of their symptoms. In Michigan, you can find  CCBHC nearest you through:

The Guidance Center, with locations in Southgate, Taylor, Lincoln Park, and Detroit, was designated as a CCBHC in 2018 by SAMHSA and has been participating in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) CCBHC Demonstration pilot since 2021:

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