Though suicide and self-harm are serious problems in North Carolina, effective prevention strategies and community support systems can reduce the number of tragic deaths and injuries, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2021, 1,448 people in North Carolina died by suicide. From 2004 to 2020, there was a 10 percent increase in deaths by suicide across the state.

In addition to the lives lost, an estimated 135 people experience the emotional fallout from a loss by suicide. Family members, friends, co-workers and loved ones are profoundly affected by the loss, as well as first responders, school professionals, medical and mental health providers, and the community at large.

Those left behind experience emotional and psychological struggles, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, guilt, anger, and isolation. After someone dies by suicide, loved ones are more likely to experience suicide ideation and attempts. They are also two to three times more likely to die by suicide.

Connecting with those experiencing suicidal ideations is challenging because they often isolate themselves or do not discuss their struggles because of the stigma associated with mental health. Many are also unaware of available community resources and support or lack the capacity to access them.

To reduce suicide ideation, the Iredell County “Be Well Iredell” team, a part of the 12-month Our State, Our Wellbeing program implemented by Carolina Across 100 and the UNC Suicide Prevention Institute, has been working for the past year to identify and implement strategies to improve community members’ mental health and to lower the number of suicides and attempts in Iredell County.

The United Way of Iredell County invites community members to the official launch of Be Well Iredell, a cross-sector collaborative seeking to address suicide prevention and mental health care issues.

The breakfast event will be on Friday, May 10, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Career Academy and Technical School meeting room, located at 350 Old Murdock Road in Troutman.

Those in healthcare, business, faith communities, education, public health, nonprofits, and community service organizations as well as interested community members all have important roles in collaborating to find solutions to the mental health crisis in our community.

The team wants to find trusted partners beyond the healthcare system to connect people with information, resources, and supports where people in need are. Churches, schools, veterans groups, and senior centers and organizations are encouraged to get involved.

During the event, the team will share what they have learned through the Our State, Our Wellbeing year-long training process and unveil the goals and strategic plan to reduce death by suicide and mental health crises in Iredell County.

The keynote speaker will be Kelly Crosbie, director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services, who will share the state’s priorities for mental and behavioral health.


Those interested in attending the launch event can register HERE.


Suicidal ideation, the persistent thought of wanting to end one’s life, may include specific plans for carrying out suicide. Self-inflicted injuries include all self-directed violence, including suicide attempts as well as non-lethal self-harm.

In 2022, 1,053 emergency room visits in Iredell County were for suicide ideation, with another 204 visits were for self-inflicted injury. Other mental health-related visits were for depression (3581) and anxiety (5,189), and trauma and stressors (706), according to NCDETECT data.

From February of 2023 through January of 2024, 7,000 to just over 9,000 North Carolinians called the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline each month. Callers can speak personally, by text, or by online chat with trained counselors who help people having suicidal thoughts, substance use issues, mental health crises, or any other kind of emotional difficulty.

Individuals may also choose a specialized hotline representative, such as a veteran, Spanish speaker, or an LGBTQ+ counselor.

The 988 hotline had 914 calls coming from Iredell County during this 12-month period. The 13- to 44-year-old age group had the highest number of calls across the state.

Callers seeking assistance are referred for help from emergency first responders, a mobile crisis team, community resources, or Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organizations (in Iredell County – Partners Health Management), depending on their level of crisis.


Our State, Our Wellbeing is a 12-month initiative to identify and implement strategies to improve mental health and reduce the number of suicides in North Carolina, launched by Carolina Across 100 and the UNC Suicide Prevention Institute.

The team members for the initiative include health providers, government agencies, educational institutions, faith-based groups, and civic and nonprofit organizations from 24 counties across the state.

The Be Well Iredell planning team includes the United Way of Iredell County, Iredell-Statesville Schools, Mooresville Graded School District, Iredell Health System, the Iredell County Health Department and Partners Health Management.

The training program kicked off in August of 2023 with a webinar joined by 60 community leaders. In October, 100 members from 15 community teams converged on Chapel Hill to hear presentations from experts on trends in suicide data, mental and behavioral health, access to care, and suicide prevention strategies.

Teams also wrote vision statements for their communities, examined community assets, and identified initial action steps.

The teams met again in a December webinar to learn how to use publicly available data to inform their individual community plans and to locate information about suicide and self-harm specific to their communities, including accessing NCDETECT and 988 hotline data.

A third webinar in January of this year taught the teams the best practices for community messaging about mental health and suicide and also highlighted community trainings and resources for suicide prevention available to them.

In February, the teams returned to Chapel Hill to hear about major new state investments in mental and behavioral health, learn strategies for engaging with different stakeholder groups, and refine action steps tto address suicide specifically in their community.

In March, teams attended another webinar detailing the “Sources of Strength” program, a “best practice youth mental health promotion and suicide prevention program designed to harness the power of peer social networks to create healthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, violence, bullying, and substance misuse.”

The mission of the program “is to prevent adverse outcomes by increasing wellbeing, help-seeking, resiliency, healthy coping, and belonging,” according to the Sources of Strength website.

In April, teams once again gathered in Chapel Hill to ensure the sustainability of their community plans to continue building local momentum for suicide prevention and mental health care.

Teams set specific goals and made plans to bring in new partners to create targeted strategy groups to ensure continuing progress in reducing suicidal ideation and mental health challenges.