Suicide is a major health problem facing youth in our nation ages 10-24. It is currently the 2nd leading cause of death for that age range and takes approximately 6,100 lives each year.
Suicide is when a young person causes his or her own death on purpose. Before attempting to take his or her own life, a young person may have thoughts of wanting to die. This is called suicidal ideation. He or she may also have suicidal behavior such as being focused on doing things that cause his or her own death.
Research shows that 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs before the attempt. This means in 80% of suicide attempts, we have the opportunity to recognize a friend who may be struggling and get them help.
Having risk factors does not always mean that a young person will attempt suicide; however, several factors can put a young person at risk for suicide. Knowing these warning signs could help save a life.
*By themselves, many of these observations are not sure signs that someone is suicidal, but could mean that they are struggling with issues in their lives and could use help.*
You should be concerned if a friend exhibits the warning signs above over an extended period of time. Have a game plan in place in the event that any one of your friends ever indicates they are hurting or thinking of hurting themselves. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone who seems to be depressed or hurting. At the very least, your friends will know there is someone who cares for them.
Talking about suicide does not give a person ideas about suicide. The opposite is true. If a person is depressed or unhappy, discussing their feelings openly and allowing them to express how they feel is one of the most helpful things you can do. Even if they have had suicidal thoughts, giving them permission to express those thoughts can relieve some of the anxiety and provide an avenue to recognize other ways to escape their pain and sadness.
Always be prepared to approach a trusted adult (ex: your favorite teacher/coach, a parent, clergy member, guidance counselor, doctor, or local mental health center) when you are worried about a friend. Never tell someone that you will keep their thoughts or feelings a secret. Be willing to risk a friendship to save their life.
Another good way to “Be Prepared” is to download The Jason Foundation’s smartphone app “A Friend Asks.” It is a free app and includes such topics as 1) Warning Signs; 2) Elevated Risk Factors; 3) How to Help a Friend – the Do’s and Don’ts in helping; and 4) Resources. The app even has a “Get Help Now” button which connects you to the closest certified Suicide Prevention Crisis Call Center that can help you or a friend. “A Friend Asks” is an easy way to have information and resources always as close as your smartphone.
It is important to encourage that individual to seek help. Reach out to a trusted adult, i.e. parent, teacher, school counselor or resource officer.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Mississippi Department of Mental Health - 1-877-210-8513
National Youth Crisis Line - 1-800-448-4663
The Jason Foundation’s Smartphone App - A Friend Asks
B1 Pledge - http://b1.jasonfoundation.com
Disclaimer: The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is not responsible for the content of listed websites, which may have changed since review.