To the Editor:

Suicide is one of the most challenging societal issues of our time, claiming more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined. Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates increased approximately 36% between 2000 and 2021. Suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes.

The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2021, an estimated 12.3 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt and 1.7 million attempted suicide.

Suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 14 and 20 to 34. It is estimated that approximately one-in-four people know someone who has taken their own life and that one suicide death leaves six or more suicide survivors and have deep long-lasting consequences. Families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, communities — and ultimately our entire community — feel the effects of this suffering and loss.

Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the pandemic only made a bad situation worse when it comes to mental health and wellness.

Today, perhaps more than ever before in our recent history, we need to come together as a community, state and country to strengthen and support one another — to be there for our friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors and others facing difficult times.

Anyone can participate in Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. There are activities that individuals, schools, offices, churches and all types of organizations can conduct to bring awareness to suicide prevention. The awareness generated in September has the potential to have an enormous impact in our nation, even the chance to save a life.

More information is available at Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast ( and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ( If you or someone you know needs help, please call or text Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or visit and click on the chat button. 988, available 24/7, is free and confidential.

All of us have a role to play in spreading kindness and compassion and supporting one another when we are struggling.

On a personal note, as a suicide loss survivor, my personal journey toward peace and acceptance would not have been possible without the unconditional love and support of my family, friends and the kind and caring souls along the way. For you all, I am deeply grateful.

Andrea Tolaio 
Program Director, Suicide Prevention Service
Family Service Agency of the Central Coast

Editor’s Note: We welcome Letters to the Editor of local and general interest to our readers. Letters should include the writer’s first and last name, home address and phone number for verification. No anonymous letters will be printed. Letters may be edited for length, clarity and libel. Send letters via email to [email protected].

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