Shame on Us: Suicide Prevention Advocacy Has Finally Lost It

Gabriel Nathan
8 min readJul 30, 2022
My 10-year-old son edited this. I think he’s pretty cool. I also think he knows more about suicide prevention and awareness than some adults I’ve seen lately online.

I have never been more ashamed, embarrassed, and repulsed about being a suicide awareness advocate in America than I am today.

Suicide prevention and awareness-raising has become, instead of a game of kick-the-can, which it often has been, far worse than that: a venture for maligning crisis workers, pitting advocates against each other, insulting suicide loss survivors, and politicizing what I had naively believed to be a-political: preventing people from killing themselves.

Silly me. I had forgotten, briefly, that this was America.

Two weeks ago, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline underwent a numeric change, from 1–800–273-TALK (8255) to 988. It, apparently, isn’t the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anymore, either. Now, it’s “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.”

Nice logo.. number, name, etc, guys.

The organization’s logo colors also changed from, like, lime-green, white, and black to navy blue and white. From everything that I have observed since July 16, one could legitimately wonder if more thought went into its logo and colors than went into the strategy, planning, and implementation, marketing, public messaging, and information dissemination of the new number and service. Vibrant Emotional Health, the organization that, ostensibly, runs the Lifeline (or whatever it’s called now) isn’t very vocal about the fact that it runs the Lifeline. They used to be the Mental Health Association of New York, but they aren’t very vocal about that either. If you read their entire “Who We Are” page; it doesn’t mention the Lifeline or 988 once.

Here’s their “About” paragraph:

“For 50 years, Vibrant Emotional Health, formerly the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), has been at the forefront of promoting emotional well-being for all people. As leaders, advocates, educators, and innovators in mental health, we have been raising awareness and offering support to everyone who is struggling. We work every single day to help save lives and assist people to get care anytime, anywhere and in any way that works for them. We are unwavering in our belief that

Gabriel Nathan

Gabe is Editor in Chief of OC87 Recovery Diaries, a mental health publication. He drives an old VW year round and wears corduroy trousers in the summer.