Suicide Touches the Lives of Many Vermonters.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide,

Call 988 for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or text VT to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line. Trained counselors are available 24/7.

If you are concerned about your or a loved one's safety or need emergency medical services,

Call 9-1-1

In 2021, there were 142 suicide deaths among Vermont residents. This is the highest number and rate of suicide deaths recorded in Vermont. Suicide impacts the whole community. Vermont’s intentional self-harm and death by suicide rates are significantly higher than the United States' rate. Suicide is also a major public health issue nationally. 

Suicide is preventable and help is available. 

Everyone has a role in saving lives and create healthy and strong individuals, families, and communities. Know the risk factors, recognize the warning signs and reach out to get help before and during a crisis. Initiative

Facing Suicide VT is a new statewide prevention initiative supported by the Vermont Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program. This statewide prevention effort provides access to suicide prevention, education, support, and advocacy resources. By sharing our stories and talking about suicide in our state, we can make it easier to ask for help and get help when needed. We can help ourselves and each other when we start facing suicide in Vermont together. Learn more about Facing Suicide VT.

New Youth–Focused Resource: Suicide Prevention Trainings for Schools

The Vermont Department of Health and Department of Mental Health have developed a resource for school leaders and staff. This resource highlights the key elements of youth suicide prevention work in schools, as well as identifies free and low-cost trainings that are available in Vermont. This resource is one part of the state's comprehensive youth suicide prevention approach, which also includes providing community support and educational groups for youth at higher risk for suicide, training adults who work or care for youth to identify warning signs and connect youth to the appropriate care, supporting healthcare systems that treat youth having thoughts of suicide, and providing grief support groups for youth who have lost someone to suicide. This project is made possible through funding by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's Garrett Lee Smith Grant.

Other help resources, veteran and LGBTQ+ contacts

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) — Free and confidential support for people in distress.
Dial 988

Crisis Text Line — A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
Text VT to 741741

Veterans Crisis Line — Always available to talk or chat, both for crisis intervention and to support friends and loved ones.
Call 1-800-273-8255 Press 1 or Text 838255 or Chat online

The Trevor Project— Counselors support LGBTQ+ youth 24/7. For people younger than age 25 in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk.

Call 1-866-488-7386, Text START to 678678, or Chat online

Trans Lifeline— Trans-led organization that connects trans people to community, peer support, and resources one needs to survive and thrive.
Call 877-565-8860

Vermont 2-1-1— Provides information and connections to treatment through the state's crisis services.
Call 2-1-1

Find a Designated Agency for Mental Health in your Vermont county.

Warning signs

There is often not a single cause of suicide. For many people, it results from multiple stressors and health issues. Learn the warning signs, and if you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, get help immediately.

Many people who die by suicide show one or more warning signs, often through what they say or do. Here are some warning signs:

TALK: a person talks about feeling hopeless or trapped, feeling like a burden, having no reason to live

BEHAVIOR: change in behavior, increased drug or alcohol use, searching for suicide methods, withdrawing from people or activities, sleeping too much or too little, aggression

MOOD: depressed, anxious, lose interest in doing things, irritable, humiliated, ashamed and agitated

Help someone else

If someone you know is having a hard time, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need. It can be scary when a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide. It's hard to know how a suicidal crisis feels and how to act. You can help, by getting help. 

#BeThe1To promotes five action steps to help you communicate with someone who may be thinking of suicide. The five steps are supported by evidence in the field of suicide prevention. 

1. Ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide, then listen to the answer without judgment. If someone says they are thinking about killing themselves, get help by dialing 988 or 9-1-1

2. Help put time and distance between the person and harmful items. Keep them safe by removing their access to lethal means. This may be removing medications and poisons from easy access or firearms from the home. 

3. Be there. Be present for them by making an emotional connection and letting them know you care.

4. Help them connect to support. Make sure they have hotline numbers and other resources programmed into their phone or written in a place where they can easily find them.

5. Follow up with texts, calls or face-to-face visits to provide ongoing support.

Find out more about the Five Action Steps

Risk and protective factors

Risk Factors are a combination of individual, relationship, community and societal factors that contribute to the risk of suicide. Risk factors are associated with suicide—they might not be direct causes.

  • Stressful life events or crisis, such as job loss, relationship trouble and major life transition 
  • Access to lethal means (including firearms and medications) 
  • Social isolation
  • Exposure to traumatic events
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Use and misuse of alcohol and other substances
  • Mental health disorders and conditions, such as depression or anxiety 
  • Chronic health conditions, including pain and traumatic brain injury
  • Lack of access to behavioral health care
  • Knowing someone who died by suicide, particularly a family member
  • Significant dates, such as anniversaries of a loved ones’ death or birth 

Find out more about Risk Factors and Warning Signs from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Many things contribute to suicide risk. These are called risk factors, and they differ across groups. Here are some examples of how some factors can impact groups differently:

  • Stress resulting from prejudice and discrimination (family rejection, bullying, violence) is a known risk factor for suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.
  • For middle-aged men, life stressors that challenge traditional male roles, such as unemployment and divorce, have been identified as risk factors.
  • People experiencing poverty, especially in rural areas, are at risk due to increased life stressors and lack of access to adequate and affordable behavioral health care.
  • Older adults and youth experience higher levels of social isolation.
  • First responders (including EMS, fire, law enforcement, and emergency dispatchers) and military veterans have stressors, including exposure to traumatic events such as death by suicide, higher rates of post-traumatic stress, the stigma associated with seeking help and increased access to lethal means.

Many things can reduce the risk of suicide. These are called protective Factors and are personal or environmental characteristics that help protect people from suicide. Some protective factors for suicide include:

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders 
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help-seeking 
  • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions
  • Life skills (including problem-solving skills, coping skills, and ability to adapt to change)
  • Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life
  • Cultural, religious or personal beliefs that discourage suicide

Learn more about Risk and Protective Factors

Safe storage for firearms

Best practice for firearms is:

  • Unloaded.

  • Locked in a secure location.

  • Separated from ammunition, with the ammunition also locked up.

Safe storage of firearms in the home can help prevent injuries and deaths that involve a firearmAccording to the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 43% of all Vermont households store firearms in or around their home. Research shows that the presence of guns in the home increases the risk of dying by suicide. During a suicidal or mental health crisis, you have options for temporarily storing potentially dangerous things, like firearms or medicines.  

In Vermont:

  • Firearm injuries are most often accidental (61%). The remaining firearm injuries are homicide or assault (16%) or intentional self-harm (13%).

  • Most firearm deaths are due to suicide (91%). Homicides account for 9% of firearm deaths.

Talk with your children about gun safety. Be sure that they know to stay away from guns in a friend’s home or elsewhere and to tell you if they see or find a gun.

Talk with the parents of your children’s friends. Find out if they have guns in their homes. If they do, ask that they keep them unloaded, locked up, and out of children’s reach.

Additional Firearm Safety Resources

Learn more about firearm safety from the Health Department.

How we talk about suicide matters

The way we talk about suicide matters. 

Asking someone if they are thinking of suicide will not plant the idea in their mind. Listening to someone can help save a life. For help in talking to someone about suicide, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, visit their website or contact one of the other resources listed at the top of this page. 

Media reporting on suicide can positively or negatively affect the community, especially after a suicide death. For best practices on responsible reporting on suicide, visit Reporting on Suicide. This resource includes guidance on coverage of suicide.

Additionally, the Action Alliance has created a Framework for Successful Messaging on Suicide Prevention. The Framework for Successful Messaging is a research-based resource that outlines four critical issues when messaging to the public about suicide.

Wondering how to talk to others about suicide after a death in your community?

See guidance from the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Prevention after a suicide

Postvention refers to actions taken to reduce risk and promote healing after a suicide death.

A suicide death can affect those beyond the immediate loss survivors and ripple outward, impacting the entire community. Following a death, it is vital to implement programs that will increase feelings of hope and resilience. 

What is Vermont doing to prevent self-harm injury and suicide deaths?

Organizations throughout Vermont are working to reduce the number of deaths by suicide, increase the number of people seeking help for suicide, and improve the health care people get when they have thoughts of suicide. 

We are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health in society. It is okay to talk about your mental health, and it is okay to ask others how they are doing. We need to eliminate the stigma around talking about mental health. 

Projects in Vermont include:

  • CDC Comprehensive Suicide Prevention grant: Vermont has received a five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the implementation and evaluation of the state’s comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The State of Vermont will use the federal grant to build on existing partnerships and programs to implement and evaluate a data-driven public health approach to suicide prevention in Vermont. The grant will bolster collective efforts on the integration between healthcare and mental health and work to ensure all Vermonters have access to the supports they need. For more information, contact Nick Nichols, Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator.  
  • Zero Suicide in Vermont Health Care: When health care systems are developed and designed to support and care for people struggling with suicidality and other mental health challenges, we can impact the number of deaths by suicide. The State of Vermont has adopted the Zero Suicide framework to support anyone seeking health and mental health care. The Zero Suicide initiative has partnered with many health and behavioral health care organizations focused on implementing the Zero Suicide framework into their work. See the Zero Suicide in Vermont brochure to learn more. 
  • Prevention programs like Youth Thrive, UMatter and Project Aware work to strengthen the mental health of Vermont youth.
  • Mental Health First Aid is a program that teaches people how to understand and respond to someone in distress.
  • Grand Isle Connecting Rural Communities: Connecting Rural Communities is a collaboration of the Center for Health and Learning, the Indian Education Program of Franklin County Abenaki Title VI Parent Advisory Committee, and the Northwestern Counseling and Support Services. This collaboration is designed to understand better what is influencing suicide and develop strategies to improve suicide prevention efforts and access to behavioral health and health care. The project will work to strengthen connections between the community and providers in Grand Isle County, with a focus on culturally competent engagement with members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi.
  • Expanding Vermont Lifeline Crisis Centers: The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline depends on local in-state call response infrastructure. Vermont currently has two in-state Lifeline centers offering full 24/7 coverage with one of the highest answer rates in the nation at 89%. In addition to answering up to 369 calls per month, Vermont’s two Lifeline centers are working to implement other services such as responding to chat and text and implementing procedures to offer a follow-up to consenting callers. In 2021, almost 1,400 Vermonters contacted the Vermont Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and 52% of people who used the Vermont Crisis Text Line shared something they've never shared with anyone else. 

    In July 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline became the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a national three-digit (988) dialing code for the Lifeline. With an anticipated increase in call volume, Vermont is working collaboratively with national partners to continue to build capacity to meet these future needs. In addition, Vermont’s 988 Planning Coalition continues to work on implementation areas around coverage, funding, quality, technology and messaging to ensure growth and sustainability.
  • Emergency Department Surveillance of Nonfatal Suicide-Related Outcomes grant: Vermont was awarded a 3-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the timeliness of surveillance of suicide-related outcomes. The Emergency Department Surveillance of Nonfatal Suicide-Related Outcomes grant will use timely emergency department data to monitor and detect clusters of suicide ideations, attempts and intentional self-harm. This grant has two goals, to increase the timeliness of aggregate reporting of nonfatal suicide-related outcomes using case definitions developed by the CDC, and to share surveillance findings with key suicide prevention stakeholders throughout the state. 
  • National Violent Death Reporting Systems grant: Vermont was awarded a 3-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect and disseminate surveillance data on violent deaths, which includes suicides, homicides, and deaths from legal intervention. The National Violent Death Reporting Systems grant collects information from death certificates, medical examiner reports, law enforcement reports, and toxicology reports into one anonymous database. The Vermont Violent Death Reporting System will use data to prevent violent deaths by informing decision-makers and program planners, educating communities, and evaluating the impact of prevention programs and strategies. 

Data collection and analysis inform all suicide prevention efforts in Vermont. Understanding the trends in data about suicidal thinking, attempts and deaths helps Vermont experts focus on populations that are at high risk. 

Visit our Injury Data page for all data briefs and reports about suicide and self-harm injury in Vermont.

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Vermont population data for suicide risk:

  • LGBT high school students are significantly more likely to make a suicide plan or attempt than their peers (2019 HS YRBS: plan 36% vs. 9%; attempt 19% vs. 4%).

  • LGBT adults are three times more likely to seriously consider suicide in the past year than non-LGBT adults (2018 BRFSS: 12% vs. 4%).

  • High school students of color are significantly more likely to make a suicide plan or attempt than their peers (2019 HS YRBS: plan 17% vs. 13%; attempt 10% vs. 6%).

  • Female high school students are significantly more likely than males to make a suicide plan or attempt (2019 HS YRBS: plan 17% vs. 10%; attempt 8% vs. 5%).

  • Females are two times more likely to visit the hospital for intentional self-harm than males (2020 VUHDDS: 214.3 vs. 109.5 per 100,000).

  • Adults with a disability are five times more likely to report seriously considering suicide in the past year (2018 BRFSS: 10% vs. 2%).

  • Males are three times more likely to die by suicide than females (2020 rate: 29.3 vs. 7.1 per 100,000).

Performance Scorecard

See our performance measure scorecard for details about suicide prevention efforts. The scorecards reflect how we are doing in our efforts to promote mental health and reduce self-harm and suicide death. 

The Health Department collects data from various sources that help inform what we know about suicide in Vermont. Vermont has data on youth suicide risk factors from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, adult risk factors from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, hospital visits for intentional self-harm and suicide-related outcomes from the Vermont Utilization Hospital Discharge Data System, detailed case reviews from the National Violent Death Reporting System and emergency medical services data from the Statewide Incident Reporting Network.

Get involved

Learn the Signs - Take a few minutes to learn the warning signs of suicide.

Know How to Help - You CAN help. Know what to say and do if someone you care about is suicidal.

Practice Self-Care - Make mental wellness a priority in your life.

Reach Out - Help is available and recovery is possible.

Spread the Word - Talk to people about mental health and wellbeing. 

Learn more at TAKE 5 TO SAVE LIVES

Contact Us

The Vermont Department of Mental Health and the Vermont Department of Health support multiple evidence-based suicide prevention programs to help increase public awareness, train providers, develop treatment networks within schools and communities, and improve prevention outreach. Through continued collaboration with our partners, we can work to reduce the burden of intentional self-harm and suicide within Vermont’s communities. 

If you have questions about suicide prevention programs or resources, please get in touch with Nick NicholsVermont Department of Health Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator.