PHOENIX, AZ - September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) coordinates efforts across several state agencies, organizations, and coalitions to educate citizens that everyone can play a role in preventing suicide in Arizona’s communities.
With the Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition, AHCCCS coordinates and publishes the annual An End to Suicide in Arizona 2017 State Plan using a framework from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Action Alliance’s plan for Zero Suicide. Outlining four strategic directions and 13 goals that state health and advocacy organizations will strive for in the next year, the plan’s initiatives are centered on training and education guidelines, awareness of drug and gun safety, responsible journalism and reporting of suicide, and suicide prevention as a core component of health care services.
“Suicide is a preventable tragedy,” says Kelli Donley Williams, AHCCCS project manager of the state plan. “Our efforts need to be community-based in order to erase the stigma of mental illnesses and teach our citizens first that it is ok to ask for help, and secondly to recognize symptoms of suicide ideation.”
During September, AHCCCS will use social media to encourage anyone in crisis to find help at national and local resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK ), Arizona’s Teen Lifeline (800-248-8336 [TEEN]), and county-specific crisis hotlines. Other messages promote The American Association of Suicidology’s mnemonic to remember the warning signs of suicide, IS PATH WARM?: ideation, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, trapped, hopelessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness, and mood changes.
In support of this effort, Governor Doug Doucey issued a proclamation declaring September Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Arizona.