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Remembering Survivors of Sexual Assault during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The month of September is devoted to raising awareness about the prevalence, causes, treatments, and risk factors for suicide in order to aid in suicide prevention. This month, Tri-Valley Haven has been thinking of the many survivors of sexual assault that do not survive suicide. Too many lives are taken by suicide each year. This is a time to support those affected by suicide and to raise awareness. There has been an important correlation made between sexual assault survivors and suicide that the public is often unaware of.

Depression can often occur as a result of stress, hurt, or trauma. Experiencing trauma puts one at higher risk for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. It is normal for sexual assault survivors to struggle with depression and it is known that untreated depression is a large cause for suicide. Approximately 33% of survivors have had a suicidal thought and about 13% of survivors will attempt suicide(1).

About 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year(2). Many of those individuals are survivors of sexual assault. The existing statistics about the prevalence of sexual assault, suicide, and suicides by sexual assault survivors are believed to be higher than reported, because it can be difficult for people to share these experiences with groups who collect data. Many never report their assault or never do to authorities that collect data.

The stigma around suicide is much like the stigma around sexual assault. There is a stigma about seeking support, sharing your experiences, and reaching out for help.

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At Tri-Valley Haven we support individuals affected by sexual assault through empowerment and encouragement. We incorporate education and advocacy to aid in prevention of the cycle that feeds suicidal thoughts. It is important to have access to resources that address suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 


If you or someone you know is struggling in healing from trauma due to sexual assault, sexual trafficking, or domestic violence, Tri-Valley Haven offers counseling and support groups to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. To make your first appointment or find out more about the groups, please call us at (925) 449-5845.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, every day at the Alameda County 24-Hour Crisis Line 1-800- 309-2131. Translation is available in more than 140 languages. Teletype (TDD) services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals is also available. You do not have to be in Alameda County to use this crisis line.

References
1. Caruso, K. (2017). Rape Victims Prone to Suicide. Retrieved from
http://www.suicide.org/rape-victims- prone-to- suicide.html
2. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2015) Suicide Statistics. Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide- statistics/
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Megan Waggener is a Sexual Assault Advocate and Preventionist at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about how you can support our life-saving services for survivors and families, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

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1 Comment

  1. An important article. It is not unusual for survivors of sexual trauma to It to struggle with depression and this can lead to suicidal thoughts.
    Tri-Valley Haven’s individual counseling and support groups are there to help & empower survivors. The Haven’s counseling services are free or at a sliding scale. No one is ever turned away for the inability to pay. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the Crisis Line: 1-800-884-8119. For counseling services, please call Tri-Valley Haven’s Community Building weekdays at: 925-449-5845.

    Reply

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