Social isolation, family or financial instability, doesn’t disappear when school’s out for the summer — or when it’s abruptly stopped due to an unforeseeable pandemic.
Pre-Covid data would suggest youth suicide was already a national epidemic. It’s the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 — which has increased 30 percent in the past 20 years.
We talked with experts at Tri-County Mental Health to learn more. How can parents, grandparents and the community begin to help. Just talk to them, they say…
You can contact Tri-County Mental Health during regular business hours at 816-468-0400. Their 24-hour crisis line is 888-279-8188. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
Zero Suicide: the prevention of suicide
Tri-County: Encourage Hope and Help
For those who rather text than talk: Crisis Text Line
How is at risk? Youth who are:
- low self-esteem
- struggle with academics
- Native American
- Lack social or family support.
How parents, grandparent and community members can help
- Talk. Be honest. It’s a hard subject to talk about, so admit it. By acknowledging your discomfort, you give the child permission to acknowledge their discomfort, too.
- Ask them, “What do you think about suicide?” “Have your friends thought about it?”
If you notice any warning signs or simply have a gut feeling about someone you think may be struggling, address the question directly in a safe space.
- Listen: Let them finish their sentences and complete thoughts without interruption
- Let them know you understand; who empathy.
- Avoid being judgmental
- Take them seriously.
- Ask them about access to lethal means, like firearms. 82 percent of youth suicides used a firearm owned by a family member, usually a parent.
- Express concern for their safety and ask how you can help.
- Persuade them to seek help and refer them to resources.
- Make yourself available to talk again, if needed.
Source: Tri-County Mental Health