Suicide has been the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States since 2012. While statistics like these are important, they provide little insight into understanding the signs and preventing suicide. Every September, we strive to bring attention to the signs that a child may be suicidal, and prevent these deaths through education and outreach. Suicide prevention starts with you; here’s how you can help:
Notice the FACTS:
Feelings – Hopelessness about the future, feeling that the situation will not improve, sadness, unhappiness, anxiety, aggression, trouble sleeping or increased sleep, or mood swings.
Actions – Disinterest in activities and hobbies, withdrawing from friends and family, participating in risky behaviors, substance usage, self-harming behavior, or researching suicide methods
Changes – Significant changes in a child’s behavior and mood over a period of time.
Threats – 50-75% of people considering suicide will give some type of warning statement, though not everyone will. Threats can be direct, like “I am going to kill myself if…” or indirect, like “I just don’t care about anything anymore”. Every threat should be taken seriously.
Situations – Events that trigger suicidal thought and behavior. Some triggering events include getting into trouble at home or school, experiencing a loss, trauma, or another change that feels overwhelming or impossible to tackle.
Talk directly with the youth that you are concerned about, and make it clear to them that you are there for them. If a child tells you that they have a plan to attempt suicide, seek immediate help. Appropriate mental health care for children who are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts is imperative and time-sensitive. The youth’s doctor or pediatrician can provide referrals to mental health professionals who can assist the child in managing their stressors.