Suicide Awareness and Prevention


This website and emails listed are not monitored 24/7 and are not intended as crisis resources. If you or someone you care about is experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. The 24/7 Behavioral Wellness Access Line can be reached by calling 888-868-1649 to access a counselor or mobile crisis resources. Calling the Access Line is free and available 24/7. 


The Department of Behavioral Wellness provides leadership in organized public and private partnership activities and education to advance strategies for suicide prevention.  Suicide Prevention activities provided through Behavioral Wellness include public and targeted information campaigns, stakeholder involvement in action teams, training, school postvention support and response (the provision of psychological support, crisis intervention and other forms of assistance to those affected by a campus suicide or other traumatic event. Suicide postvention involves a series of planned interventions with those affected by a campus suicide with the intention to facilitate the grieving or adjustment process, stabilize the environment, reduce the risk of negative behaviors, limit the risk of further suicides through contagion), first responder and community support surrounding deaths by suicide, outreach and education.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities throughout our nation. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but is often preventable.  Though the warning signs may be subtle, they are there.  Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help in saving lives.   

Signs and Symptoms

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves

  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live

  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun

  • Talking about great guilt or shame

  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions

  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Using alcohol or drugs more often

  • Acting anxious or agitated

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast

  • Talking or thinking about death often

  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy

  • Giving away important possessions

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

For more information, please go to Know the Signs


What You Should Know About Suicide

On average, nine Californians die by suicide every day, comparable to the number of individuals killed in traffic accidents.  Suicide devastates families and communities.  Suicides occur among all demographic, socioeconomic and ethnic groups.  Contrary to popular belief, suicides are the lowest in December and peak in spring and fall.  Furthermore; 

  • The highest suicide rate in California is among adults over 85, often correlated to depression and chronic illness. 

  • Males are three times more likely to die by suicide than females.

  • The largest number of suicides occurs among individuals between 45 and 54.

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people 16 to 25.

  • In California, Caucasian people have the highest suicide rate, followed by Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Asians, people of two or more races and Latinos

Irwin Lunianski, M.D., a psychiatrist with the Department of Behavioral Wellness Quality Care Management Division, suggests that community involvement is essential in combatting suicide:

  • Teachers should monitor students for unusual behavior and link them to counseling when needed. 

  • Medical professionals must exercise great caution prescribing potentially lethal drugs, because overdose is a major means of suicide.

  • Community organizations like church groups and YMCA camps can administer questionnaires that include screening for depression and link at-risk individuals to counseling.

  • Examples of societal actions include reducing the prevalence of guns, constructing suicide barriers on bridges and tall buildings and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health conditions.


Promising Treatments Available

"As for treatment, the first thing we have to do is find out if a person is depressed, because depression is the most important psychological element of suicide," Dr. Lunianski explains. "Research indicates that it is very helpful for individuals to tell their stories, learn problem-solving skills, change negative thought patterns and be encouraged to engage in social interactions."  Once a person seeks help, some very promising therapies are available, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).



School Suicide Prevention and Response Resources

What's Happening in the Community

  • Behavioral Wellness Crisis Action Team2nd Tuesday of each Month at the Santa Barbara Children's Clinic Large Conference Room – 429 N. San Antonio Rd.  All are welcome to attend.

  • Santa Barbara Unified School District Wellness Council and Signs of Suicide Program

             Signs of Suicide in the news

             Wellness Council

   National Suicide Prevention Month, Sept 2019

  • September 8 – Out of the Darkness Walk, Leadbetter Beach, Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
  • September 10 – Suicide Prevention Month Resolution presented by Board of Supervisors, Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, 105 E Anapamu, Santa Barbara

  • September 10 – Carpinteria Candlelight Vigil, Linden Dr, Seal Fountain, Carpinteria, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Latest News


Learn More

Free eBooks and Brochures

NIMH Answers Questions About Suicide:  This fact sheet answers some common questions about suicide and suicide prevention among teens and young adults.

Suicide in America:  Frequently Asked Questions: This NIMH brochure covers suicide risk in people of all genders and age groups.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain:  This NIMH Infographic presents five steps for helping someone in emotional pain in order to prevent suicide.

Preventing Suicide: This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet highlights the public health impact of suicide and strategies to prevent suicide.

Support for Department and County Staff

Whether working in the field of public service in general, or with the most severely impacted and most complex behavioral health cases, is challenging and can "take a toll."  Many who have worked in this helping field for a long time have developed the ability to work with stressful situations on a daily basis without any personal impact. However, dealing with certain traumatic or stressful situations can have a lasting negative impact.  In addition, other situations may also occur in the workplace such as the sudden loss, serious illness or death of a co-worker, death of a client or other traumatic workplace event.  The Department of Behavioral Wellness knows how critical this support is and provides for immediate access to support (provided directly or coordinating with external resources). Department or County employees or supervisors may request support or linkage to support, at any time, by contacting Suzanne Grimmesey at (805) 886-5403 or


For immediate assistance for yourself or another who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the Behavioral Wellness 24/7 Access Line at 1-888-868-1649.

For information on Suicide Prevention programs or services operated through Behavioral Wellness, please, contact:

Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT

PIO/Chief Quality Care and Strategy Officer

(805) 886-5403