We at the Injury Prevention Research Center are saddened by the recent suicide losses within the UNC community. We grieve alongside the many impacted family members, friends, and classmates. We recognize the far-reaching effects that suicide has in our community and we encourage impacted individuals to connect with available resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services or Student Wellness. For those seeking resources not affiliated with the University, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK and the Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741-741.

While we encourage individuals to connect with helping resources, we also recognize preventing suicide requires more than a visit with a therapist; more than sharing the number to a crisis line; and more than informative messages about mental health. Despite widespread sharing of crisis line numbers and encouraging people to check in on their loved ones, suicide rates have continued to rise in the United States. We know the last 18+ months have been one of the most stressful periods many of us have ever had to navigate. Many of the stressors brought on as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are unique, but they do not exist in a vacuum. These are compounded by stressors brought on by existing systems of structural disadvantage.

At its core, preventing suicide requires us to ask the question, “How can we build a world worth living in?” Preventing suicide challenges us to build a world that is equitable and fair; a world in which everyone has the chance to live to their full potential. Structural inequality harms all of us, even those who appear to be advantaged. Preventing suicide requires us to address structural factors including racism, poverty, unaffordable housing, lack of childcare, lack of access to affordable healthcare, trauma, and violence.

Our Center remains committed to supporting the critical work being done here in North Carolina and beyond to prevent violence and build healthier, more equitable communities.