Each year, September 10th is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day. The suicide rate among young people has tripled since the 1940s. And according to this article in the National Institute of Mental Health, there were over twice as many deaths due to suicide than homicide in 2016. But together, we can all do our part in suicide prevention.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death between 10-24 years old.
- Suicide claims about 4,600 youth lives each year.
- There are 157,000 youth between the ages of 10-24 treated in the ER for self-inflicted injury each year.
- Girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are more likely to be successful.
- 16% of high school students will consider suicide, 13% will make a plan, and 8% will make an actual attempt.
What this means
What this means is that over time, we are nearly guaranteed to either know someone or know of someone who has at least considered suicide. Suicide can touch any family and can happen in families who don’t know there is a problem. Many kids can paint a perfect exterior and successfully hide their pain from even close friends and families.
What Can You Do
Know the Signs
If you hear someone talking about wishing they were dead or talking about wanting to kill themselves, you need to take action right away. But often, the signs are more subtle. Is your child becoming more withdrawn? Avoiding friends and not seeming to enjoy things they normally enjoy? Are the mood swings significantly more dramatic than usual? If you are worried something may not be right, ask questions. Let them know you love them. Go do something together and ask directly if they’ve thought about hurting themselves. These are hard questions, but they need to be asked.
Do Your Part
One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent is to let your child know that you’re there for them. And not just when things are good. But also when they are at their worst. So take a deep breath and plunge right on in. Let them know that you’ve noticed that they seem to be struggling. Tell them you’re there if they need to talk. Remember that many children who are contemplating suicide feel deeply and utterly alone and that their voice and presence doesn’t matter. Be there. Acknowledge the struggle. And if you are worried about them, get help. Talk to your pediatrician. Get them in with a counselor. It truly does take a village. Do not hesitate to expand yours.
Are you taking care of your emotional health? Is your teen taking care of their’s? If not, there is no time like the present. Kids face enormous pressure at school trying to balance their education, friends, family, and social media. Talk about stress management and listen to what they think would help them to decompress. You can read more about self-care in Self Care for the School Year.
If your teen or someone you know is struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a counselor or talk to your doctor. You (and they) are not alone. Know where to call for help. If you don’t know where to turn, you can also call the suicide hotline at any time for help.
Spread the Word
Make sure you let others know what to look for. Teach your kids to recognize signs of distress in their friends. Empower your friends to help as well. There may be only 1 suicide awareness day, but the time to be aware is every day. We have to look out for each other and help keep all of our kids safe. To learn more about suicide prevention, check out the Take 5 site to learn the steps.