Suicide Awareness Holidays

Raising Suicide Awareness Ahead of the Holidays

Suicide is a global, year-round phenomenon. However, suicide awareness and prevention efforts remain important during the holidays.

The holiday season is filled with celebrations, social gatherings with family and friends, and good cheer. While many of us look forward to the festivities of the holiday season, for some people this time of year can bring increased depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The increased pressure to be social and happy in addition to being surrounded by cheeriness can be especially isolating to individuals who feel their lowest.

Mental health can be a true challenge at this time of year. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found 64% of people with mental illness report holidays worsen their condition. People already living with mental illness are more affected by holiday depression and anxiety. Families and friends should know the signs and watch out for each other.

What can you do?

Reach Out & Stay Connected

The experience of social isolation, rejection, and alienation are associated with suicidal thoughts. If you are concerned about someone ahead of the holiday season or during the holiday season, the most generous gift you can give them is your time, attention, companionship, and loving concern. Find a way to include them and make them feel welcome as they are.

The holiday season is actually an ideal time to strengthen your relationships with your loved ones—a major protective measure against suicide. The holiday calendar provides many reasons to reach out and reconnect with family and friends. The simple act of reaching out is incredibly meaningful to someone who feels alone. A phone call, a video chat, a text message, an invitation to a gathering, a personal visit, or making plans together that suit their social needs can all make a world of difference.

Be a Nonjudgmental Support System

The most important thing to do is keep the lines of communication open. Let your family member or friend know you are there for them, that they matter to you, and that you will listen to them without judgment or criticism. Acknowledge that the holidays can be difficult, that it is okay not to feel happy or joyful, and allow them to participate without forcing holiday joy. Express gratitude for having them in your life both verbally and in your actions. Let them know you love and care for them.

If any of the above is not something you can do, find someone who can.

Know the Signs


Suicide awareness and prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. Pay attention to the subtle signs that someone is navigating stress and could be at serious risk for suicide. These signs can include:

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness
  • Feeling burdensome, trapped, or desperate
  • Increased substance use or substance abuse
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and social interactions
  • Sudden mood changes or aggressive behavior
  • Reckless, impulsive behavior
  • Giving away possessions, “tying up loose ends,” or “getting affairs in order”
  • Talking about having no desire to live or explicitly saying they want to die

In particular, check in with any friends or family members who are currently experiencing or have previously experienced a loss or trauma, who are dealing with a mental or physical illness, or who are veterans.

Outreach for Every Season

Suicide awareness is important year round. During the holiday season, keep up with the tradition of looking in on friends and family members that you think need extra support. But continue to be supportive and compassionate year round, especially after the holidays end.

Remember, most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental-health related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. The 988 line provides 24/7 free, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. For the Veteran’s Crisis Line, dial 988, then press 1.

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