Youth Suicides are on the Rise


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness, share resources and spread the word that we can help prevent suicide.

For nearly a decade suicide rates have climbed among U.S. teens. Suicide rates among teens began to increase in 2007 with an even sharper increase between 2014 and 2017. New studies published recently hope to alert parents, guardians and care givers to the increasing suicide rates so they’ll notice changes in teens and young adults that may suggest a risk for suicide.

In Tennessee suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 17-years-old. In 2017, 59 percent of youth suicide cases across Tennessee were carried out with a firearm. The incident happened inside the child’s home in 62 percent of suicide cases.

Mental health disorders and depression are also on the rise among Tennessee youth and teens. A 2017 study found that one in five Tennessee kids have a mental health condition, yet less than half receive treatment, services or support.

Certain groups of youth and teens are more at risk for suicide as well. The Trevor Project released statistics which highlight suicidal thoughts and actions among LGBTQ youth;

·         39 percent of LGBTQ youth surveyed have seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months.

·         More than half of transgendered and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide in last 12 months.

·         Nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ youth attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

·         Nearly 1 in 3 transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

Many troubled youth display behaviors that could signal their suicidal intent. Recognizing the warning signs and learning what to do next may help save a life.

Watch for warning signs

You can find a complete list of warning signs to look out for and tips on how to talk with children about suicide.

Warning signs can include, but are not limited to the following:

•                    Talking about suicide—for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn't been born”

•                    Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills

•                    Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone

•                    Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next

•                    Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation

•                    Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly

•                    Changing eating and/or sleeping patterns

•                    Creating poems, essays or drawings that refer to death

•                    Experiencing a recent severe loss (especially in a relationship), or the threat of a significant loss

•                    Having a severe drop in school performance

•                    Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order

•                    Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again

Where to get help

If you have concerns about your child, first remove all means of harm, then look for sources that can help your child. Here are some options;

•                    In the event of immediate risk of harm, call 911

•                    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text “TN” to 741741 or call the Local Crisis Response Service at 1-800-704-2651.

•                    Mobile Crisis Services for Children and Youth. Mobile Crisis Services is a state response team that’s on duty 24 hours a day year round to help with mental health emergencies. The team’s crisis specialists can meet with you where you are. Call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).

•                    A schoolteacher or principal. In Tennessee, all teachers and principals receive youth suicide awareness and prevention training.

•                    Mental health provider

•                    A family physician

Tennessee Suicide Prevention and Crisis Resources

Here are some options for finding more information on suicide prevention and crisis services in Tennessee;

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network

The Jason Foundation: The organization focuses on preventing youth suicide through educational awareness programs for young people, educators/youth workers and parents. Tools and resources are provided to identify and help at-risk youth.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center: This national resource center provides training and materials to help professionals who are working with people at risk for suicide.