Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention & Suicide Prevention Week

There are many organizations and foundations dedicated to suicide prevention. These associations also have fundraisers and events to create awareness and spread their message. Suicide prevention week is a major event that usually takes place in the 2nd week of September. This year suicide prevention week will be from September 6-12, 2009 and it is sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology. Suicide prevention week happens in September so that it can correspond with World Suicide Day which is recognized by the World Health Organization and sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. World Suicide Day is on September 10; therefore it falls in the middle of suicide prevention week.

During suicide prevention week, another advocacy measure is called yellow ribbon suicide prevention. Yellow ribbon suicide prevention is much like the use of red ribbons to create awareness and show support for those with HIV/AIDS or the use of pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.

In addition to raising awareness and showing support, suicide prevention week has another purpose. Suicide prevention week facilitates a forum for discussion for survivors and loved ones of those who have lost their lives to suicide. Furthermore, suicide prevention week also encourages discussions and partnerships among mental health professionals, social workers, counselors, doctors, and researchers so that they can break barriers in this field.

Yellow ribbon suicide prevention began in September 1994, after the death of 17 year old, Mike Emme. When his friends and others other teenagers went to offer their condolences to his family and ask how they could help, the response from their parents was to never commit suicide. They strongly encouraged anyone who was contemplating suicide to go and seek help and reach out to someone. Thus the yellow ribbon suicide prevention program was born. The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program was at a very grassroots level started by empowered youth. The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program believes that for success in this cause, is involvement by individuals in every level of society. This is not just a national organization that relies of support from the government and large benefactors.

Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention is intended to be very grassroots so that people are touched individually and empowered to save themselves and save others from the terrible fate of suicide. The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program has a very important belief that revolves around a non-threatening gatekeeper theory in which they would like to provide three types of gate keepers to those who have been prevented from committing suicide. The three main types of gatekeepers encouraged by the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program are: an adult in a professional relationship such as a counselor or teacher, next is an adult in a non professional relationship such as a friend or family member, and lastly a peer. While Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention aims to prevent suicide in all people, their focus is towards teens and adolescents.

As mentioned above, suicide prevention week allows for the meeting of those who have survived suicide, those who have been prevented, and for the gatekeepers and share their stories and offer each other support. National Suicide Prevention Week will commence on September 6, 2009 so be sure to show your support and wear your yellow ribbon.