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Help Prevent Teen Suicide

The Holiday Season is when depression and suicide rates are at their highest. Teenagers and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and peer pressure that may result in low self esteem and depression. The Washington State Department of Health just released a prevention plan, which may be of use to parents, teachers, social workers, healthcare providers, counselors, ministers, and anyone else who has daily contact with this at risk population. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I received from the WA DOH:

“The DOH Injury and Violence Prevention Program just released Washington State’s Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention 2009. You can find a copy of the Plan at www.doh.wa.gov/preventsuicide. This electronic version will be updated as new information becomes available.

 Youth suicide affects our communities, neighborhoods, and families. On average, two youths in Washington State kill themselves each week and 17 more are hospitalized. Youth suicide is the second leading cause of death for Washington youth. There are nearly twice as many suicides as homicides for youths between 10-24 years of age. 

Youth suicide prevention involves prevention of violence, access to mental health treatment, adolescent resiliency, and intervention by primary health providers and emergency services.”

If you have concerns about your own teenager or adolescent, you should contact their primary healthcare provider. Primary healthcare providers are trained to assess patients for depression as well as suicide risk and can often provide helpful resources to give you the support you need to help your child.
 

Here is an exerpt from the Suicide Prevention Plan available for download at the link above:

“Most suicidal young people don’t really want to die; they just want their pain to end. About 80 percent of the time, people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.
 
Watch for these signs. They may indicate someone is thinking about suicide. The more signs you see, the greater the risk:
  •  A previous suicide attempt.
  • Current talk of suicide or making a plan.
  • Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal.
  • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use.
  • Hinting at not being around in the future or saying goodbye.
These warning signs are especially noteworthy in light of:
  • a recent death or suicide of a friend or family member.
  • a recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or conflict with parents.
  • news reports of other suicides by young people in the same school or community.
Other key risk factors include:
  • Readily accessible firearms.
  • Impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks.
  • Lack of connection to family and friends (no one to talk to).

Courtesy of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program http://www.yspp.org

What to do if you see the warning signs?
 
For additional resources see http://www.yspp.org  
 
Seek immediate help by contacting 911 if you believe someone is in immediate danger of hurting themselves.
 
Contact a mental health professional or call 1-800-273-TALK for a referral should you witness, hear, or see anyone exhibiting any one or more of the above behaviors.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 Suicide is a Preventable Public Health Problem

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