National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month events at UMaine Machias

University of Maine at Machias will hold events in recognition of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in September.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the rate of suicide in Maine, like the nation as a whole, has been increasing since 2006. On an average, 257 Maine citizens die by suicide each year.

The rate of suicide in Maine is highest of all northeastern states and 20% above the national rate. A Mainer is nine times more likely to die by suicide than from homicide.

In a 2021 CDC report (cited in the MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 2, 2021), researchers found the number of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, while the percentage of individuals reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7% between August 2020 and February 2021.

“Due to an increase in these mental health conditions and unmet mental health care needs, prevention and awareness of suicide is needed now more than ever” says Stacey Cherry, mental health counselor at UMaine Machias. “Preventing suicide will require help from everyone, not just mental health professionals. Anyone can help save a life.”

At UMaine Machias in September, there will be an outdoor Suicide Memorial/Awareness Display featuring pinwheels representing lives lost annually by suicide in Maine.

Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, there will be information on suicide prevention and awareness on the UMaine Machias Counseling Center Facebook page. All are encouraged to light candles in their windows at 8 p.m. and change their social media profile pictures to lit candles as a show of support and awareness.

A suicide prevention and awareness presentation and discussion led by Cherry will be held via Zoom from 6–7:30 p.m., Sept. 15. The event will focus on basic attitudes and beliefs about suicide, risk factors, warning signs and simple interventions and approaches to intervene with someone who may be contemplating suicide. The Zoom link:

Sept. 22 will be the annual Out of the Darkness Walk nationwide, designed to help give people the courage to open up about their own struggle or loss, and a platform to change our culture’s approach to mental health. In Machias, the walk will begin at 6 p.m. at the Machias Chamber of Commerce (across from Helen’s Restaurant) and end at Bad Little Falls Park, where there will be a candlelight vigil. Participants also can opt to share their thoughts and reflect on their direct or indirect experiences with suicide.

For more information about these events or to request a reasonable accommodation, call 207.255.1343.

If concerned about yourself or if you know someone who is having thoughts of suicide, call AMHC Crisis Services, 1.888.568.1112 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1.800.273.8255; or text START to 741-741.

Contact: Margaret Nagle,