September has long been recognized nationwide as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. The increased rates of suicidal ideation and attempts over the last several decades are alarming, with a 30% increase in the last 20 years. The average individual has experienced mental health distress this year, with COVID-19 ramifications and the rise in police brutality we saw over the summer. According to the Journal of American Medicine, teenage suicides have increased since the year 2000, making it the second-leading cause of death in those 15-24 years old.
Talking about these issues, including their effects on mental health, can help assuage ideation or other dark thoughts. With school, sports and other activities disrupted due to the pandemic, kids are more isolated and not in daily contact with teachers, coaches, counselors, friends or others who might notice signs of depression or suicidal warnings. Adults need to be on the look-out for our own children, their friends and kids in our neighborhood.
Warning signs to look for include, but are not limited to:
- Talking about suicide
- Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
- A deepening depression
- Preoccupation with death
- Taking unnecessary risks, exhibiting self-destructive behavior or other out-of-character behaviors
- A loss of interest in the things one cares about
- Visiting or calling people one cares about
- Giving away prized possessions
- Isolation. This is a big one right now, so call your people, text, send a meal delivery or postcard. Every point of contact can help.
- Extreme mood swings. While we’ve accepted it’s OK not be OK right now, we don’t want to ignore extreme highs and lows in moods or behaviors.
Youth Villages has a Specialized Crisis Services team in Tennessee. The team includes specially trained crisis counselors who are available 24 hours a day across the state to respond to crises rapidly and effectively. The crisis services staff provides assessment and evaluation of children and youth, up to age 18, who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency.
If you know anyone who may be suicidal, the following numbers are great resources that are available 24/7.
For help for children and youth up to age 19, call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Hotline:
Crisis TextLine – Text “TN” to 741741
If you are located in another state outside of Tennessee, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK or (1-800-273-8255)
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during the time. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. If you have thoughts of suicide, contact 1-800-273-TALK to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. For resources on coping with mental health struggles during COVID-19, visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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