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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Suicide is a Preventable Public Health Problem