September 2020 - Suicide Prevention Month
Welcome Back to School, students and families!
September is suicide prevention month and our SAP Counselors want to share important facts that can improve your awareness and empower you to help those who are considering taking their lives when they feel like there is no way out of a very dark moment of time.
Are you concerned about a youth in your life demonstrating concerning, uncharacteristic changes or withdrawal behaviors? You may be an important link to encouraging that individual to ask for help and seek professional support.
As feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and fear continue to increase during the pandemic, suicide prevention has never been more important.The goal of suicide prevention events is to draw attention to this public health challenge and provide tools to make it easier to notice when someone is struggling and to offer support.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth ages 10 – 24
- 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs
- In an average day, there are more than 5,200 suicide attempts made by middle school and high school students
- Far more children think about killing themselves than those who actually attempt suicide; this is called “suicidal ideation”
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, influenza, stroke, pneumonia, and chronic lung disease combined
- Suicide claims the lives of over 2,000 Pennsylvanians each year (according to the latest statistics) —an average of five (5) lives each day
Is Self Injury or Self Harm the same as Suicidal Ideation?
In fact, in research, self injury is most frequently referred to as NSSI – Non Suicidal Self Injury. Although it does not have a direct correlation to suicide, cutting is a common form of self-harm that is underrated, overlooked, and mocked. What people need to learn is that self-harm is a PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED, not a fashion statement, phase, or joke of any kind.
- NSSI most frequently begins in adolescence, between 12-15 years old with approximately 50% -60% starting in grades 7 – 8)
- However, NSSI has been found to start much earlier in life, with 20 -25% starting in grade 6 or lower
- For those with early onset this behavior may begin as young as 7
- Approximately 20 – 25% state that they began to engage in NSSI at age 17 or later, frequently during the first year in college
Suicide Risk Factors: (characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide)
- Depression and other mental health disorder(s)
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma/abuse
- Major physical illness
- Job loss
- Financial loss
Becoming increasingly withdrawn
Changes in sleep patterns
Signs of depression
Increase in anger or irritability
Lack of interest in preferred activities
Sudden decrease or increase in appetite
Decrease in academic performance
Previous suicidal attempts
Suicide threats (verbal/behavioral)
How Can I Help?
Establish healthy connections with youth in your community
Listen to concerns and check in about previously expressed concerns
Help connect youth with crisis supports/mental health professionals. Experts agree that clinical depression is one of the biggest risk factors for suicidal thoughts. Depression can be treated with medicine, counseling, or a combination of the two. Approximately 80% of the people who seek help for their depression improve with treatment
When a youth expresses warning signs of suicide:
- Talk to them alone in a private setting
- Ask them if they are thinking of killing themselves or are suicidal
- Ask them if they have a plan
- 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 1-800-499-7455
- Lenape Valley Mobile Crisis Intervention Services 1-877-435-7709
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: 741741
- "A Friend Asks” (free APP)
If the answer is yes, call crisis services or take them to the Emergency Room RIGHT AWAY and DON’T leave them alone
Protective Factors: (characteristics that buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior)
Meaningful connections with adults
Guidance about coping skills to manage life stressors
Positive, supportive relationships with teachers and peers at school and in the community
Advocacy for individuals/groups who experience discrimination
Support given to youth who experience a significant challenge or change in their life
Accessibility to crisis hotlines and counseling resources