Let’s talk about suicide.

More than 39,000 people die each year from suicide. That is more than twice the rate in this country of homicidal deaths. One million people, annually, make a suicide attempt in the U.S. We need to think of these losses as preventable, as we already approach deaths from accidents and illnesses where prevention, early detection, and employing effective interventions are lifesaving.

Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D., “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” on The Huffington Post (see link below).

Knowing what you can do to prevent suicide is like knowing how to perform CPR: you hope you never have to use that knowledge, but if you’re ever in a situation where you do, you’ll be thankful you can. People who commit suicide are just like you. They have jobs and families. They experience stress. They might even seem “perfectly normal” to almost everyone around them. Some have faced joblessness and homelessness. Others are wildly successful at their careers and own multiple houses. You might know someone who has tried to commit suicide (and maybe you don’t even know it). You have absolutely no way of knowing whether you, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend may become suicidal in the future.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a collaboration of International Association for Suicide Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health. Consider this post a Public Service Announcement that YOU have the power to help prevent suicide.

I know several people who have contemplated or attempted suicide. In high school, one of my close friends was suspected of being suicidal, as was a mutual classmate of ours; both were taken to a mental health facility.  My friend was (and is) one of the smartest people I have ever met. She has a quick wit, easily learned anything she put her mind to learning from language to musical instruments, and was a prolific writer. People liked her and thought she was hilariously funny. My classmate–someone I didn’t know as well as I would have liked, mainly because she was so incredibly cool that she intimidated me–was gorgeous. She had beautiful wavy hair and the kind of looks that never needed  makeup to light up a room. Her sense of personal style was chic but not commercial; I admired her ability to create outfits and imagined she just rolled out of bed perfectly dressed. She was also very smart, artistic, and seemed to have a lot of friends. Another one of my high school classmates–funny, popular, involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities–exhibited some suicidal tendencies.  His family tried to help; while you might hesitate to call it suicide, he went rollerblading at night on a narrow dark street, wearing all black, with no ID.  These are just my high school friends; I know others too.

Please take five minutes out of your day to learn about suicide and what you can do to prevent suicide. Only have one minute? My friend Carlee is participating in the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in San Diego.  Today also happens to be her birthday, so if you have $5 please donate.  (If you don’t have $5, please consider skipping tomorrow’s trip to Starbucks?) From her campaign page you can also learn more about how you can participate in a walk yourself.

The number one piece of advice I have found to prevent suicide is to REACH OUT. Anxiety and depression are very common among adolescents and young adults (but also exist in all other populations!) and can lead to suicidal thoughts. Many of the articles I’ve read today suggest that a sense of connectedness and community are important in preventing suicide.

If nothing else, keep this number handy: Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

If you have reason to believe someone is in imminent danger of killing themselves, this is a life-threatening emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency number.

Other Resources:

The Crisis Text Line

Help A Friend In Need

A collaboration among Facebook, The Jed Foundation, and The Clinton Foundation.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

International Association for Suicide Prevention @IASPinfo on twitter

Follow the links for World Suicide Prevention Day for quick reads on suicide prevention and more resources.

World Federation for Mental Health

Among other resources, there is a downloadable guidebook called “Mental Illness and Suicide–A Family Guide to Facing & Reducing the Risks” available in English and Spanish.

Huffington Post: There are multiple articles posted today on this topic. Here is the link to the one I referenced above.

Disclosure: Back in 2o12, I was selected to be one of the original Women’s Health Magazine “Action Hero” team members. The main purpose of an Action Hero was to promote the Run 10 Feed 10 event, benefiting FEED. The event has changed over the years and sprouted in new cities. There’s even an app! I retired from the Action Hero program after three years, but still think this is a great event. To see if there is one near you, check out the official Run 10 Feed 10 site.

Are you Hungry?

According to the World Food Program, a division of the United Nations, hunger is the world’s most solvable problem. The problem isn’t a lack of food–we have plenty on the planet. It’s about connecting that food to the hungry people that need it. Media showcase the obvious problems daily: hungry people living in war zones where the roads used to deliver food are no longer safe, or where armed conflict has forced people out of their homes and farmers away from their fields, or in areas struck by disasters from hurricanes to annual floods to earthquakes. Since most of us see that news via wifi or high speed internet from the comfort of secure homes with heat and running water, it is easy to forget that there are hungry people right here in the United States. Hunger may not be as widespread or severe as it is in other places (the World Food Program doesn’t even operations in the United States) but it still exists.

Pizza: a treat for me, a luxury for many.

Hunger isn’t seasonal.

You might think of hunger around the holidays–when there are always plentiful food drives and various churches, synagogues, temples, and other organizations sponsor holiday meals for needy families–but a child is just as likely to be hungry when school lets out for the summer and they don’t have access to the federal school lunch program. According to the FEED Foundation, a big proponent of school meals and the charity beneficiary of Run 10 Feed 10, the number of hungry has increased more than 30% since 2007. Hungry children suffer even more than hungry adults, as an empty belly makes it hard to stay focused and learn in school. Hungry kids don’t get the nutrients they need to grow, and often suffer health problems into adulthood.

Here is your call to action: sign up now to Run 10 Feed 10 (

As you run your 10k, you’ll know you’ve fed at least ten hungry children. If you choose to fundraise, you can feed even more!  The fundraising commitment–if you choose to go that route–is only $100.  That’s really low and easily achievable; just ask ten of your friends to kick in $10, or ask 20 friends to donate one day of latte/smoothie money ($5), and you’re there.  The events are fun, filled with women and men out to share a run and a cause.  Each participant is guaranteed a friendly run and a post-race gathering, complete with your very own FEED Foundation bag.

If you’re like me, you can go grab this from your fridge. Many Americans can’t, and many don’t have a home with a fridge.

The information in this paragraph is outdated. Check out the main site, link above! Until September 1, you can use the code WHBAIN to save on your registration fee (and still feed ten meals!).  The complete listing of events is at  While I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ll be running in Los Angeles on September 29.  Other members of The Women’s Health Action Hero team will be at every scheduled event, and are creating events in other cities.  Check out if you are in Georgia!  If you can’t make any of the events, simply run your own: you choose the when and where, and Run 10 Feed 10 will send your FEED bag directly to you.

Who’s in??

If you don’t want to Run 10, you can still help Feed 10! Check out the event’s Crowdrise page, and donate to the fundraiser of your choice.