sharp pencil with jumbled letters behind it - Tips and tools for social workers

NASW Raises Awareness During National Suicide Prevention Week

Denise Johnson, LCSW-C, Senior Practice Associate, Clinical Social Work

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) acknowledges National Suicide Prevention Week, which takes place the week of September 10-16, 2023.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have increased by approximately 36% between 2000 and 2021. In 2021, there were 48,183 deaths by suicide, which equates to about one death every 11 minutes. The number of those who contemplate, or attempt suicide is higher. It is estimated that in 2021, 12.3 million adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.7 million attempted suicide.[1],[2]

While anyone can be at risk for suicide, the CDC notes the disparities in suicide rates among different populations. It highlights that certain groups, such as veterans, people living in rural areas, LGBTQIA2S+, middle-aged adults, people of color, and tribal populations, experience higher rates of suicide or suicide attempts.[3]

Social workers can play an important role in suicide prevention by helping to identify individuals who are at risk and providing them with the treatment and support they need to stay safe. To help social workers in this effort, NASW offers resources to aid in suicide prevention. 


Care Transitions Practices for Suicidal Individuals

Sep 22, 2023, 02:00 PM EST

This webinar will discuss what elevates risk for individuals making a transition of care. Transitions in care generally refer to the movement of patients from one healthcare setting to another, such as from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility or from a primary care provider to a specialist. In this webinar, strategies for building partnerships as well as developing and enhancing a system of care to reduce the level of risk associated during transitions will also be explored.

Suicide Among Older Adults: A Durkheimian Perspective (On Demand)

The presentation addresses the application of Durkheim’s theory of suicide to the contemporary older adult population.Using Durkheim’s theory of suicide helps us look for signs of suicide potential among older adults and residents. To access this webinar, please visit the NASW Social Work Online CE Institute.

Suicide Awareness & Prevention: PsychU Resource Review & Discussion

September 27, 2023, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EDT

This webinar discusses the critically important topic of suicide awareness and prevention. Appropriate language, ongoing initiatives, and screening tools will also be highlighted.

Crisis Resources

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States by dialing or texting 988. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 200 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices. The 988 Partner Toolkit is available and intended to facilitate partner efforts for collaborative and aligned 988 communication planning.

The Veterans Crisis Line

The Veterans Crisis Line website provides veterans and their families with a range of mental health services and resources. Service members, the National Guard and Reserve members can also use this resource. This includes 24/7 access to confidential help, suicide prevention support, and referrals to local resources. There is also a live chat feature where veterans can talk anonymously with a trained professional. To access the crisis line dial 988 and then press 1 or Text 838255.


NASW Social Work Talks Podcast Episode 37: Suicide Prevention with Jonathan Singer

Jonathan B. Singer, Ph.D., LCSW, is an associate professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago and a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with children and families. He's the host of the award-winning Social Work Podcast, and author of multiple publications, including "Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner's Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention."

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast EP103: Supporting People Grieving After Losing a Loved One to Suicide

Christine Gilchrist, LCSW, is a specialist in suicide prevention and in helping those who are survivors of suicide. She speaks about how she and other social workers help people who are grieving after losing a loved one to suicide.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

This CDC microsite offers detailed comprehensive information about suicide and suicide prevention. Additionally, the website provides guidance for those looking for mental health treatment or crisis services, as well as resources and support for survivors of suicide loss.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI provides support and education for people and their families impacted by mental health conditions to include suicide prevention. On their website, visitors can find a variety of resources including support groups, helplines, blogs, webinars, and more. They also provide information on advocacy efforts and how to get involved in NAMI initiatives. The website also published results from a public poll that provides key findings on 988 awareness and crisis response.

NASW Research Library

NASW members have unlimited access to more than 25 international databases with thousands of documents from leading research institutions, think tanks, and advocacy groups. Members can find information on various topics of social work practice including but not limited to suicide and suicide prevention.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

NIMH is the nation’s leading federal agency for research on mental health conditions. The website provides information about mental health and suicide prevention.

Social Work Online CE Institute

NASW has created several resources to help social workers meet their professional development needs. Members can also receive continuing education credits for free or at a discounted rate.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) 

SPRC is a national resource center dedicated to supporting the advancement of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies. SPRC provides technical assistance, training, and materials to increase the knowledge and expertise of suicide prevention practitioners and other professionals. The website offers a comprehensive range of resources, including publications, videos, reports, factsheets, technical assistance, educational materials, and a range of online tools and resources. Visitors can access a library of publications, participate in online trainings and webinars, find state and national resources, and learn more about suicide prevention strategies.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Practitioner Training Resources

This SAMHSA microsite has information for providers on various topics related to mental health and substance use disorders. It includes a library of resources including research, tools, training materials, and publications to support suicide prevention efforts. It also offers guidance on developing effective local suicide prevention strategies. 

United States Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs website includes information about access to mental health services and programs, helpful tips and tools, and resources to help those in need. It also provides information about programs and events aimed at suicide prevention and support for individuals, families, and providers.


Addressing the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide

This article is available on the NASW website and discusses the alarming increase in suicide rates among Black youth, particularly those between the ages of five and 12. It highlights the need for comprehensive solutions to address this crisis, including increased government funding for research, promoting evidence-based interventions, and collaboration between various stakeholders. The article also emphasizes the importance of addressing mental health disparities and providing culturally humble mental health care to Black youth.

One Year Into 988, Sustained Investment Needed to Expand Crisis Care System, Mental Health Workforce

This blog discusses the implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is the 988-phone number. One year in, the blog highlights the impact of the hotline and the need for suicide prevention resources and education. 

Elder Suicide: Durkheim’s Vision

Stephen Marson's research provides insight on understanding suicidal distress in older adults. He employs Emile Durkheim's theory of suicide to identify fatalistic, anomic, egoistic, and altruistic environmental conditions that can lead to suicide, and then presents intervention strategies based on social factors. This book is available at NASW Press.

Multisystem Skills and Interventions in School Social Work Practice

This book provides evidence-based multisystem interventions to address topics such as aggressive behavior, attendance, ADHD, substance use, and youth suicide prevention. It is available at NASW Press and covers all levels; from school, to family, to community agencies, and policy level, with examples of larger system and policy interventions to help improve the lives of those dealing with mental health conditions.

Preventing Suicide Requires a Comprehensive Approach

This resource from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an infographic highlighting important facts and statistics about suicide prevention in the US. It provides an overview of some of the most important aspects of suicide prevention, such as warning signs, risk factors, and prevention strategies. It also gives an overview of the national suicide rate and examples of successful suicide prevention initiatives.

Social Work Practice with Veterans

Social Work Practice with Veterans is available at NASW Press and is a comprehensive text designed to give social workers the skills and knowledge necessary to help military service members, veterans, and their families cope with the various stages of the deployment cycle, including mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder, suicide, traumatic brain injury, and substance use. It incorporates research, practice experience, case studies, theory, and social work values to equip social workers in serving military personnel with confidence and expertise.

Suicide Prevention Resource for Action

CDC’s Suicide Prevention Resource for Action details the strategies with the best available evidence to reduce suicide. This resource can help states and communities prioritize suicide prevention activities most likely to have an impact. The programs, practices, and policies in this publication can be tailored to the needs of populations and communities.

[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System, Mortality 2018-2021 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released in 2023. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2018-2021, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at on Jan 11, 2023

[2] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

[3] Disparities in suicide(2023) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: Retrieved September 5, 2023.