DCH Corner – Teen Suicide

September is National Suicide Awareness Month, and all month long we’ll be dedicating our DCH Corner to articles about suicide risks, suicide prevention, and ways you can support loved ones or receive support. These articles will also be archived on our website (www.decaturcountyhospital.org).

You can also visit the DCH lobby during the month of September to pick up informational materials about suicide. Please also join us on Tuesday, September 24 at 10 am and 2 pm for short walk with our Senior Life Solutions team. Please wear teal and purple to show your support of suicide awareness. If you wish to walk, you can meet the group in the DCH lobby.

The Senior Life Solutions team will be available to answer questions about suicide prevention, have awareness ribbons and beads to recognize those affected by suicide, and more information about our Senior Life Solutions program to support elderly persons in dealing with unique emotions and situations that face us as we age.

For the third article in our series, we are focusing on youth suicide, and the impact of social media. The following text was reprinted with permission from the Jason Foundation (http://jasonfoundation.com).

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans aged 10 – 24. On average, we lose a young person in this age group every 80 minutes to the “silent epidemic” of youth suicide in the country. Suicide is on the rise for youth in our nation. Some outlets and members of the public have pointed towards social media and this prevalence of online connectivity as a contributing factor for this increase. According to a 2017 study by the CDC, 14.9% of high school students reported being electronically bullied through text messages or social media in the previous 12 months.

There is no doubt that online connectivity and social media can play a role in increasing depression for an individual or providing the means for cyber-bullying, which can increase the chance of suicidal thoughts. That being said, social media can be a tool for education and resources for prevention if used correctly. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have means of reporting if you notice a friend who may be contemplating suicide. Bullying, and cyber-bullying, is often looked to as a precursor to a suicide or attempt. While it is true that a young person who is being bullied is at a higher risk of attempting suicide, what is often overlooked is that the bully is also more susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Many times a suicide is a result of undiagnosed or undertreated mental illness. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide attempts.

The Jason Foundation is a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide prevention and awareness. All programs and materials are available to the public at no cost. Four out of five people who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs prior to the attempt. The Jason Foundation offers a 1-hour training module titled, “Bullying and Suicide”. This training module delves into the problem of bullying in schools and its relation to suicide. Facts, myths, and research regarding bullying and suicide are discussed. Suggested protective factors and recommendations are provided. Visit their website to learn the warning signs, access the training, and find out how you can help. www.jasonfoundation.com

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and/or thinking about suicide, get help now. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a free resource that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone who is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. You can also text “Jason” to 741741 to text confidentially with a trained Crisis Counselor for free, 24/7.

Next week in our DCH Corner, we’ll focus on resources available to you to support suicide awareness, and more details on how to get help if you need specialized support. To learn more about Decatur County Hospital, Senior Life Solutions, and all our available services, please visit www.decaturcountyhospital.org, or follow us on Facebook @DecaturCountyHospitalIowa.