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NC Department of Health and Human Services
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Injury and Violence Prevention Branch

Suicide Prevention

Suicides can be prevented by recognizing signs and symptoms, learning how to help, and taking steps to provide that help to people in need. The statewide program working to address suicide is within the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. The program works to facilitate partnerships that can address this serious public health problem across different populations.

In 2020, the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch received inaugural funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a Comprehensive Suicide Prevention (CSP) program. This grant aims to address family, community, and societal issues that contribute to suicide through data-informed prevention activities.

Our CSP program focuses on reaching men, veterans, those residing in rural communities, and youth ages 10-18 with increased risk of suicide in North Carolina.

Our evidence-informed programs/practices include:

  • Expanding and disseminating Gun Safety Team (GST) development training.
  • Providing CSP Injury-Free NC Academy (a training to introduce suicide prevention and promising suicide prevention programming) as a resource to community groups to guide them in developing and implementing targeted suicide prevention strategies.
  • Providing Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) Train-the-Trainer sessions to expand the number of trainers in the state available to assist in implementation.
  • Promoting gatekeeper trainings (Living Works Start [teaches trainers to recognize when someone is thinking about suicide and connect to help and support] or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training [ASIST]), an intensive early intervention training.
  • Createing an online training module for Suicide Prevention Training for NC Schools.
  • Creating policy(ies) supporting telemental health and screening for suicide risk.

The Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Advisory Council (CSPAC) was formed and officially kicked off in February 2021 with a goal of building statewide capacity for suicide prevention. This group of multidisciplinary partners meets quarterly to address program implementation, policies, and outcomes to reduce the impact of suicide in vulnerable populations across North Carolina.

Join our suicide prevention listserv to receive more information about suicide prevention work, including upcoming webinars, trainings, conferences, and much more.

Statewide Inventory of Suicide Prevention Efforts

The map below indicates suicide prevention efforts across the state. Filters allow for searching for particular populations as well as safe storage methods. Due to the high number of programs in Wake, Durham and Orange counties, this area has been enlarged to accurately show the locations of efforts. Additional information for a suicide prevention effort can be obtained by hovering your cursor over a dot.

  • To navigate the dashboard, use the filter sections on the right side of the page according to the safe storage methods or special populations that are of interest.
  • The Filter Map by Safe Storage Method drop down box allows you to filter resources throughout the state by which type of safe storage practice an organization may offer.
  • The Filter Map by Population Served boxes allow you to filter resources throughout the state by the priority populations they serve.
  • The Populations Served Legend provides a color-coded system for resources based on the priority populations which are served by that resource.
  • To select a resource, hover your cursor over the resource to read what the resource is, where they are located, what services they provide, and what counties they serve.
  • If you wish to view the resource you have selected in a more in-depth manner, click on the hyperlink labeled click for website and you will be directed to the website for that resource.
  • If you want to be added to this map, have your information updated, or would like to be added to the Comprehensive Suicide Prevention email listserv, please complete this brief survey. Note: If you would like to add/update suicide prevention information and be added to the email listserv, please fill out the survey one time for each purpose.

2015 N.C. Suicide Prevention Plan

2015 North Carolina Suicide Prevention PlanThe 2015 N.C. Suicide Prevention Plan (PDF, 4.1 MB) is the result of a collaborative 16-month process among staff members within the Division of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior, and the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services. Utilizing the input of approximately 180 diverse suicide prevention stakeholders, the plan’s primary purpose is to empower all North Carolinians with knowledge and to highlight examples of the actions they can take to reduce suicide. An Executive Summary (PDF, 1.4 MB) of the plan and a presentation of data (PDF, 676 KB) included in the plan are also available.

 General Suicide Prevention Information

What is suicide?

Suicide is defined as when a person intentionally ends their own life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in North Carolina ages 10 to 18, and the third leading cause of death for those ages 19 to 34. Suicide deaths are only part of the problem. More people survive suicide attempts than those who die. They are often seriously injured and need medical care. Most people feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. Often, victims are blamed, and their friends, families, and communities are left devastated.

What are the risk factors for suicide?

According to the CDC, a combination of situations can contribute to the development of suicidal thinking.. Risk factors can increase the likelihood of suicide but may not be a direct cause.Risk factors for suicide include, but are not limited to:

Individual:

  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Mental illness such as depression
  • Social isolation
  • Substance use disorder
  • Job problems or loss
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

Relationship:

  • Adverse childhood experiences, such as child abuse and neglect
  • Bullying
  • Family history of suicide
  • Sexual violence
  • Intimate partner problem

Community:

  • Barriers to accessing health care

Societal:

  • Stigma associated with mental illness or help-seeking
  • Easy access to lethal means among people at risk (e.g., firearms, medications)

Note: These are only some of the risk factors for suicide. To learn more, visit the CDC's risk and protective factors and suicide prevention pages.

 Youth Suicide Prevention

Youth Suicide Prevention Overview

Youth suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting and significant effects on youths and their families, peers and communities. Causes of suicide among youth can be complex and involve many different factors. Suicide can be prevented by addressing an individual’s risk factors, teaching resilience, promoting connectedness, reducing feelings of isolation and restricting access to lethal means. Youth serving providers such as schools can learn to identify and assist those at risk, reduce stigma and promote help seeking and provide linkages to care.

Youth Suicide Prevention Initiatives

In 2008, North Carolina was awarded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Youth Suicide Prevention Program, to address suicide among 10-24 year olds in North Carolina. The grant ended in 2015 and led to creation of the It's OK 2 Ask" website and provides suicide prevention trainings to communities. The program continues to provide technical assistance and subject matter expertise to youth serving entities.

Resources