September 10, 2020 


As we recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, we know that the added economic stress, social isolation, loss of loved ones and myriad hardships that accompany the pandemic are causing more people to consider suicide. Suicide prevention is more important now than ever. See AATA’s resource for clinicians and the general public with tips to recognize and respond to the warning signs. Know that help is available if you or somebody you know is in mental health crisis. Text “NAMI” to 741741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Suicide was a leading and growing cause of death in the United States even before the Coronavirus pandemic. On average, there are 132 suicides per day, and suicides have increased by  31 percent  since 2001. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 34. And in 2018, the suicide rate among males was 3.7 times higher than among females.

These devastating statistics have only been elevated during this pandemic. In the American Art Therapy Association May 2020 survey, 45 percent of art therapists reported increases in suicidal ideation among clients, with one in eight art therapists (12%) saying it came up frequently in sessions. These results are consistent with June 2020 survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealing that approximately twice as many adult respondents reported serious consideration of suicide in the previous 30 days compared with data from 2018 (10.7% and 4.3%, respectively). The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey was significantly higher among:

  • Self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7%)
  • Essential workers (21.7%)
  • Respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%)
  • Hispanic respondents (18.6%)
  • Black respondents (15.1%)

As mental health professionals, art therapists know that suicide is preventable, but all too often people in crisis have no access to care or support.

Join us in Urging Congress to Pass the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act

In July, the Federal Communications Commission made the historic announcement that it had unanimously voted to designate 9-8-8 as the universal three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Now, it is Congress’ turn to make history on 9-8-8 and make mental health crisis services more accessible.

To date, the House and Senate have each approved similar, but not identical, bills establishing 9-8-8 as the dialing code and supporting the new hotline by establishing a funding mechanism through states and wireless phone carries. That legislation, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, is not yet over the finish line. Without this bill our communities won’t be able to respond to the demand for crisis services.

The American Art Therapy Association is calling on the House of Representatives to vote on and approve S. 2661 as soon as possible. Contact your Representative to urge party leadership to bring S. 2661 to a vote! And look out for more action alerts from AATA this month.