Written by Jahneen Keatz, LMSW. Clinically reviewed by Jenny Ryan, LCSW-C

At Backpack Healthcare, we’re committed to addressing the youth mental health crisis, and that includes suicide prevention. 

While suicide affects people of all ages, its rates are highest among teens and young adults and is the second-highest cause of mortality for 15-29 year olds worldwide. 

In honor of Suicide Prevention Month this September, we want to share clinically backed information for parents, teens, and young adults so we can all take an active role in helping to prevent suicide in our communities. 

Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2021 that nearly one in five high school students report seriously considering suicide. Because of this, it’s extremely important to be on the lookout for warning signs and intervene as early as possible. 

Common signs include:

  • Frequent expressions of hopelessness: Frequent expressions of feeling trapped, helpless, or burdened.
  • Drastic mood changes: Severe mood swings or heightened irritability
  • Past suicidal behavior: One study of children, adolescents, and young adults in Ireland found that 19.2% of patients committed another act of self-harm within a year after the previous occurrence. 
  • Talking about suicide: Verbalized thoughts or intentions of self-harm or suicide 

If you notice someone exhibiting these behaviors, don’t wait to take action. 

Note: If you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis and needs immediate intervention, call or text 988 or reach out to a local crisis unit.

Promoting Suicide Prevention 

Preventing suicide requires us all to take a multifaceted approach and understand the risk factors that can lead to suicide. 

Some of the most fundamental strategies for suicide prevention include:

1. Promoting Mental Health 

Raising awareness about mental health and promoting open conversations can decrease the stigma around asking for help when you need it.

2. Improving Access to Mental Health Services

Many people don’t have access to the mental healthcare they need, so addressing this issue with solutions like community resources, hotlines, and accessible therapy can have a major impact.

3. Training Gatekeepers

When teachers, healthcare practitioners, community leaders, and parents are trained to recognize warning signs of suicide, they can be prepared to give immediate, sometimes life-saving, intervention.

4. Improving Treatment of Mental Illness

When people can access treatment for depression and other mental illnesses — whether through pharmaceuticals or through psychotherapy — suicide rates are shown to decrease. 

By recognizing signs, advocating for mental health, and nurturing a supportive atmosphere, we can all work together to decrease the impact of suicide on our families and our communities. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, and when we work together, we can save lives. 

If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, reach out to your community resources like 988, local crisis units, or 911.  

If you live in the state of Maryland and think your child could benefit from outpatient therapy or psychiatry, Backpack Healthcare provides comprehensive, accessible, and inclusive care for kids and teens. Contact us today to learn more.

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