JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – September is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month. The Mississippi Department of Mental Health (MDMH) plans to bring additional awareness in the state.

In 2020, a total of 45,979 Americans died by suicide. Officials recently reported those numbers have increased to more than 45,700 Americans. In 2020, 410 Mississippians killed themselves.

Suicide is the third lead-causing death in Mississippi for individuals ages 10 to 24.

Katie Storr, chief of staff at MDMH, said the agency strives to educate and normalize talking about suicide. She believes there are a large amount of Mississippians and even Americans who suffer from suicidal thoughts and mental health crises without having access to support services.

“It is important for us to recognize that this is a problem in our state and in our nation,” said Storr. “We want as much people to feel comfortable on seeking that proper help.”

September 8th is National 988 Day, which is a day to help spread the importance of the 988 lifeline. The 24-hour lifeline is for individuals who are suffering from mental distress or suicidal crisis to get immediate help from specialists.

“Suicide can be prevented,” said Storr. “That’s why we strive to help those in the communities and spread the word about resources not just within the September but everyday.”

MDMH encourages all Mississippians to spread the word about 988 Lifeline by using the 988 hashtag.