I honestly hadn’t planned to participate in any blog hops this month after wrapping up the Stealing the Wind Blog Tour, but when I saw the post about the Authors Care Blog Hop to raise awareness of Suicide Prevention Week, I felt compelled to write. While this post isn’t about promotion, I am offering a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate as an incentive for people to comment and participate. There’s also a grand prize available drawn from all participants. Click here to enter that drawing and to find links to all the other hop participants.
First off, a few statistics about suicide, just to put the issue in perspective (CDC statistics reported in 2013):
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for youth between the ages of 10 and 24
- LGBT kids are three times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual kids
- 16% of students grades 9-12 reported seriously considering suicide at some time
- 157,000 youth (age 10-24) receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries
- 4,600 youth (age 10-24) commit suicide each year, 81% of whom were male
When I was a kid in the 1970s, two kids I knew committed suicide. They were both high school students, both talented, wonderful young women. I still wonder what their lives would have been like had they not succeeded in killing themselves. I wonder even more so now that I’m the parent of two teenagers, one of whom attempted suicide a few years ago. I consider myself so very lucky, and I often think about parents who weren’t as fortunate. I’m happy to report my child is doing very well these days. But I still worry. I probably always will.
So what can we, as adults, do to help teens who are suffering? First and foremost: don’t sit around and do nothing if someone tells you s/he is considering suicide. You need to act. Get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) is a wonderful lifeline. Have the person call. If they won’t, YOU call them: 800-273-8255. There are wonderful therapies out there, including DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), something that was very useful to my family. And YES, it’s a family issue. Blame gets you nothing but heartache.
What else can you do? Talk to your children and your friends about suicide. Let them know that if they need you, you’ll be there to listen. Don’t just assume they’ll be fine. If you are part of the tension and they don’t want to talk to you, make sure they have other adults or professionals they can turn to. Look for symptoms that can lead to suicide: depression, substance abuse, hurting behaviors like cutting. DON’T ignore them. Yes, it’s difficult to broach the subject, but if you wait too long, you may never get a chance. Kids model their peers’ behavior, including self-hurting behaviors. Be a better model for them by talking about the stress and anxiety that go along with being a teenager. TALK.
Need more resources? Check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website: http://www.afsp.org/preventing-suicide Take a look at the five steps to saving lives at http://take5tosavelives.org/ Those five steps include telling 5 people about suicide and suicide prevention. Tell a friend, a co-worker, a family member.
Thanks for the ear! Don’t forget to take a moment and comment to be entered in the drawing for the $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate. -Shira