September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is a time to bring awareness to the impact suicide has on our community and what we can all do to prevent it. Most importantly, we want to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.
In Illinois, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth and young adults 10 to 19 years old and the second leading cause for youth ages 10 to 14. In 2018, 132 Illinois youth died by suicide; that's more than one death every three days. Given these sobering statistics, it’s important to learn about the warning signs of suicide, risk and protective factors, and what adults can do.
Warning signs may include, but are not limited to:
So, what can you do if you are worried about a young person, but not sure if they are at risk for causing harm to themselves? Mental health problems are common and treatable, so overcoming barriers to care is probably the single most important and lifesaving thing an adult can do for a young person who is struggling.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.TALK) is a great resource for young people, their friends and family. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your physician for advice. Your physician should also be familiar with mental health resources in your community. Additionally, it is becoming more common for primary care offices to have mental health experts embedded into the clinic which really helps with access.
If you think that the young person may be in immediate danger of harming themselves, take them to the emergency department or call 911.