The most recent CDC data available from 2017 reports that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people age 10-34. It’s difficult to imagine so many youth dying by suicide at age 10, 11, or 12.

A “survivor of suicide” is defined as someone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide.  I have worked in mental health settings for many years. I have worked with two youths that have since died by suicide; there are most likely others that I am unaware of. I am also a survivor of suicide of two individuals in my personal life. I’ve experienced the hurt, the loss, the unanswered questions, and the wonder of what could have prevented the suicide.

The losses I experienced were before current technology and social media. For me, there were no red-flags visible, as I was not physically around them before they ended their lives.  With current technology and social media platforms, red-flags are more visible. In the digital age, if an individual sees a concerning post online and notifies someone that can help, then distance is not a limiter in suicide prevention. There have been stories in the news of youth seeing a concerning post and notifying the authorities. Geography and type of relationship are no longer barriers to help.

If you know of someone who is struggling in-person or online, here are some resources for you:

Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the leading national resource. This resource is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The crisis line number is 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline website is for those needing help and for individuals wanting to know how to help someone else. There are resources for finding a therapist or a support group for youth, disaster survivors, Native Americans, veterans, loss survivors, LGBTQ, attempt survivors, deaf and hard of hearing, and Spanish speaking individuals.

Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line is a great resource for those needing help that would prefer to text over talk. This service is for anyone in the US, and trained crisis counselors will text back 24/7. For youth who are often more willing to text than talk, this is an excellent service. When I’m working with youth I often have them save the number (741741) into their phone. All someone has to do is text a message asking for help or wanting to “talk” to the number 741741.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) hosts World Suicide Prevention Day every year in September.  There are many activities you can participate in to help prevent suicide through this movement. I personally am looking forward to the “Cycle Around the Globe” event.


Prevention and Training

Prevent Suicide PA

Prevent Suicide PA is an organization dedicated “to support those who are affected by suicide, provide education, awareness, and understanding by collaborating with the community to prevent suicide, and reduce the stigma associated with suicide.” They have online training for health care providers, mental health providers, juvenile justice professionals, teachers, and schools. There are also yearly PSA contests with some very wonderful youth-developed suicide prevention PSAs.

Star Center

In Pittsburgh, the Star Center is an excellent resource for at-risk youth. This organization is headed by Dr. David Brent and Dr. Mary Margret Kerr. From the website: “The program was the first and still the only comprehensive youth suicide intervention center in the State of Pennsylvania and one of the first centers in the nation, founded specifically to address the issues surrounding youth suicide.” The Star Center is also available to provide training for preventing and treating suicidal behavior.


Toolkits

Crisis Action School Toolkit on Suicide (CAST-S)

Montana’s CAST-S: Crisis Action School Toolkit on Suicide is an excellent guide for schools surrounding suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention (after a loss). The CAST-S has many tools, guides, and forms to use as a school. It also includes postvention procedures for what to do after a suicide death of a student. Click here to download. It was co-authored by Dr. Scott Poland. He is a Professor and Co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office and Full-Time Faculty, Department of Clinical and School Psychology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is recognized internationally for his work in suicide prevention. Dr. Poland also has some excellent resources around the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.”

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, Second Edition

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has a host of resources for you including After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, Second Edition. This can be another resource for educational settings to help navigate community, students, and staff after a loss of a student to suicide.

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training

The QPR Institute has developed the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training for individuals, organizations, and professionals. You can also take the QPR Gatekeeper Trainer Certification Course to become a certified trainer of the program.

Suicide Safe

Suicide Safe is a mobile app by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). A description from the App Store: “Suicide Safe is a suicide prevention learning tool for primary care and behavioral health providers and is based on the nationally recognized Suicide Assessment Five-step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) practice guidelines.”  It is a great tool for those who need to discuss suicidal ideation with someone but would feel more comfortable with “conversation starters” to help ease the discomfort of such a sensitive discussion. It’s available for IOS and Android. There are some other nice apps by SAMHSA you should check out as well.


Suicide Contagion and Media Guidelines

Media Guidelines for Suicide Reporting

There are best practice media guidelines for reporting on a suicide. Please read this guide for how to cover a suicide and minimize the potential for contagion suicides.

Bridgend

Bridgend is a documentary about a cluster of suicides in Bridgend Wales. If you watch this documentary, be warned that it is very emotional. The goal of the film is exploring and telling the story of the cluster of suicides. It is not based upon any research to identify the causation.  There have also been cluster suicides in the Silicon Valley, Herriman High School in Utah, Stark County Ohio, Downingtown East High School in Chester County, Battle Ground School District, and college campuses.

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based upon the book by Jay Asher. The book/series tells the story of a teen who died by suicide and the events that occur after. There are concerns for suicide contagion however the data providing these concerns is debatable. The 13 Reasons Why Toolkit was developed by a group of mental health and suicide prevention experts that wanted to provide a resource in order to respond to the series and reach those who may need help. This is an excellent resource for parents, educators, youth, clinicians and media to help navigate this series.


LGBTQ

Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is an excellent support website for LGBTQ youth struggling emotionally. The statistics for bullying and suicide of LGBTQ youth are higher than non-LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project has many resources such as the TrevorLifeLine, TrevorChat, and TrevorText. There is an excellent Trevor Support Center with resources for coming out, families, and healthy relationships


College Aged

ULifeline

ULifeline is “your online resource for college mental health.” This is a great resource for college-aged youth. This website has information about: alcohol and drugs, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, borderline personalities, cutting, depression, eating disorders, emotional health, schizophrenia, stress, and suicidal behavior.  There is also a “Self Evaluator” individuals can take to help identify thirteen of the most common mental health conditions with college-aged youth.


After a Death by Suicide

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

If a friend or family member died by suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a page of resources. They have resources to help you immediately after a loss, connecting to other survivors and ways to honor your loved one.


I hope this resource is helpful for your suicide prevention efforts and in Creating Responsible Relationships on Smartphones.

~ Ryan


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