Did you know that every 100 minutes, a teen commits suicide? And while September is National Suicide Prevention Month, the resources and attention must never stop. Suicide prevention should always be top of mind, particularly where it concerns kids and teens. As Whitney Dwire, from STOMP Out Bullying, said earlier this month on World Suicide Prevention Day, “Suicide prevention is everybody’s business!”
There are all kinds of ways to be a part of the solution. Here are a few ways you can help save a life all year long.
3 Key Steps for Suicide Prevention: Be Part of the Solution
Know the Warning Signs & Risk Factors
According to the Samaritans NYC, suicide is the third leading cause of death of teenagers. In addition, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide affects all youth, but some groups are at higher risk than others.
Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 84% of the deaths were males and 16% were females. Girls, however, are more likely to report attempting suicide than boys.
Suicide by youths include risk factors such as:
- History of previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- History of depression or other mental illness
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Stressful life event or loss
- Easy access to lethal methods
- Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Some of the common warning signs to pay attention to in kids and youth are:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
- Disinterest in using their computers and cell phones to text friends
- Disinterest in going to school
- Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
- Drug and alcohol use
- Unusual neglect of personal appearance
- Marked personality change
- Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
- Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Not tolerating praise or rewards
Be sure to keep an open line of communication all the time. It’s so important that youth and teens feel heard, loved, and noticed, particularly if they are showing signs of being at-risk for suicide.
Check In & Listen
To be a part of the solution, take the time to check in with a child, friend, colleague or family member if you think they might be struggling. When people feel listened to, it can make all the difference. There is help, and suicide is NEVER the answer. Really listen to what your loved ones are going through - and then make sure they have all of the resources they need for when they are in crisis.
Point Them Towards Resources
STOMP Out Bullying created the HelpChat Line - a free and confidential chat where kids 13 and older can log onto if they are being cyberbullied, or at risk for suicide. There they can chat with a trained counselor. Also share with them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In the USA, call toll-free 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. You can also read more here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
No matter what, let them know that there’s always help.
Don’t let the end of September be the end of taking suicide prevention measures. As a parent, sibling, or friend, the most important thing you can do to help prevent suicide is to start a dialogue and keep it going. Remember, your job is to notice the warning signs, start the conversation, listen and provide all the resources you can to help kids and teens with anything they might be dealing with.
By being there, sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and HelpChat Line, you might help save a precious life.
When the HelpChat Line is NOT available and your teens are IN CRISIS please have them contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or the LGBTQ National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743).