It is an unfortunate fact that almost everyone has been impacted in some way by suicide. Suicide is ranked as the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-32 year-olds (American Association of Suicidology). This averages out to one person taking their life every 11 minutes. Although it is a heart-wrenching condition no matter the age group, its affect on youth is staggering.
The National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS) feels that suicide is preventable through
outreach to vulnerable youth
and support for suicide prevention, especially the engagement and empowerment of youth partners.
Youth Empowerment Happen?
Simply put, Youth Empowerment lets the younger age-groups take the lead in awareness and prevention campaigns.
For example, the NCPYS has created an advisory board consisting of youth aged 13-18 who have exemplified leadership in mental health and suicide prevention roles. These young adults represent schools and cities across the US.
Additionally, the NCPYS has spearheaded the U OK? fundraising and awareness model which changes how schools and communities deal with suicide prevention by letting youth develop and run their own programs.
In this way, high-school students are mobilized resulting in increased recognition of those most at risk, and communities are equipped with the skills they need to recognize the warning signs of suicide, help friends in need, and know where to seek out resources.
Suicide Prevention and Warning Signs
Around 45% of people who die by suicide have visited a medical professional within the previous 30 days. Although it is now protocol to ask patients if they are feeling suicidal, it is necessary for doctors, nurses, and other caregivers (such as pharmacy staff) to look out for the signs just as closely as family and friends. This group can usually discern if a patient is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, putting them at a higher risk factor for suicide. Additionally, primary care doctors prescribe medicines for depression on a regular basis.
Family, friends, and acquaintances are normally the ones responsible for preventing suicidal actions through awareness of the warning signs. Here's a general list to watch out for:
Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as attempting to obtain firearms or unreasonable amounts of medication
Claiming they are hopeless, useless, or have no purpose
Expressing that they are in unbearable pain, or that they feel trapped
Saying that they are a burden to others
Warning signs specific to Teens
as listed on the SAVE website, are as follows:
Talking about or making plans for suicide
Expressing hopelessness about the future
Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situation
Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
Recent increased agitation or irritability
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please know that there are people waiting to help you get through this. Here is a list of resources for all age groups and walks of life: