Teen Suicide


Serious about dieing by suicide? Call 911 or
Go to the emergency room at a local hospital
Download the MY3 App 888-628-9454

Want to text?
Active Minds Text
"BRAVE" to 741741
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Text
"TALK " to 741741
Crisis Text Line: Text Home" to 741741
DDH Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Text "TalkWithUs" to 66746
First Call for Help Text "your zip code" to 898221
Lines for Life Text "teen2teen" to 839863
National Alliance on Mental Illness Text "NAMI " to 741741
Spanish Speakers Text "Hablanos" to 66746
Trevor Project (LGBTQ) Text "START" to 678678
Veterans Crisis Line 838255
ZeroAttempts.Org Text "SOS" to 741741

Want to talk?
800.273.TALK (8255)
or TDD 800.448.1833
AIDS Crisis Line: 1-800-221-7044
American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
Boys Town National Hotline 800-448-3000
California Youth Crisis Line - 800-843-5200
Copline for Law Enforcement 800-267-5463
Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
GLBT National Help Center Hotline: 1-888-843-4564 Youth talkline: 800-246-7743
LGBTQ 866-488-7386
Lifeline Crisis Chat (Online live messaging)
National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line:
National Crisis Helpline 800.273.TALK (8255) or TDD 800.448.1833
TTY & Chat 800-799-4889
National Crisis Line - Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio 888-628-9454
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Oregon Crisis Lines by County
Oregon Youthline for Teens - teen2teen 4-10pm PST daily
- 877.968.8491
Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Substance Abuse Helpline - 800.923.4357
Suicide Prevention Wiki
Trans Lifeline - English/Spanish/Family & Friends too - 877-565-8860
TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 press 1; TTY 800-799-4889 or Chat or Text "SOS" to 838255

Calling 911 and Talking With Police

Find a Therapist - U.S.
Wild Rivers Coast, OR

Web site referrals:
Attempt Survivors
Ayuda En Espanol
Deaf, Hard of Hearing
Disaster Survivors
Loss Survivfors
Native Americans

 For other
Emergency Numbers
International Suicide Hotines
International Suicide Prevention Resource Directory
"Suicide Awareness and Prevention: Finding Hope" (16 page PDF)
Best Emergency Preparedness Supplies


Can texting save lives? - Must see video!

If you are in crisis, text "SOS" to 741741 or call 800.273-TALK (8255). If you are in extreme crisis, call 911 while you're looking in the front of your local yellow pages for the number of the local suicide prevention hotline. If you can't get through to either of those, click on Emergency Numbers. Also visit www.metanoia.org/suicide which contains conversations and writings for suicidal persons to read, gay youth suicide at www.sws.soton.ac.uk/gay-youth-suicide and youth: suicide at www.virtualcity.com/youthsuicide .

Movement for Wellness. Never end the sentence.

Promise a good friend that you will not end your life without first talking to them about doing it.



Trigger Warning

The content displayed on this web page may be sensitive to some viewers. Viewing is not advised if you may become easily triggered.


Serious about dieing by suicide?
Call 911 or go to the emergency room at a local hospital or Text "SOS" to 741741 or Talk 800.273.8255 or TDD 800.448.1833
Download the MY3 App 888-628-9454

Not triggered but need a stress reduction? Click here.

Online Depression Screening Test

Be a Courageous Oregonian

WARNING: "13 Reasons Why" Season 4 release date January 7-12, 2020 started May 18, 2018. Know the facts on Season 2 which started May 18, 2018.. Have these supportive resources available for parents, students and stakeholders.


Awkward Silence


Can texting save lives? - Must see video!
R U OK? 
It Gets Better
Hollywood Undead - Bullet
How to tell your parents in a positive
way that your suicidal.
Logic - 1-800-273-8255 ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid
Logic Tavis Smiley Interview discussing Anxiety, Depression, and Education
Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid Perform "1-800-273-8255”
Live At The MTV VMAs / 2017) ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid
The 60th GRAMMYs
Logic and Alessia Explain the Importance of Their Powerful Hit Song

Songs that saved my life
More videos

Be sure to check out the Anti-Stigma Campaign


Disclaimer - Information is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. Any medical decisions should be made in conjunction with your physician or psychiatrist. We will not be liable for any complications, injuries or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with, the use of or reliance upon any information on this web site.

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When Someone Feels Suicidal FIX
Warning Signs - Various
Interventions FIX
Talk with your teen about suicide
Teen Suicides: What Are the Risk Factors? EN ESPAÑOL
Coping With A Parent’s Suicide How to help the children who are left behind
The Teacher’s Role When Tragedy Strikes: Healing for students dealing with tragedy begins in the classroom EN ESPAÑOL
Supporting Children After the Suicide of a Classmate: Responding to a painful loss in the healthiest way possible
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Myths and facts about mental health
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Suicide Trainings
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"My friend is talking about suicide. What should I do?" FIX
Native American Youth Suicide
Teen students are more likely to take their life when

You never know

Teens’ brains make them more vulnerable to suicide
Teen suicide is contagious, and the problem may be worse than we thought
Zero Suicide
A Story Concerning Teen Suicide - Free
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Who Young People Turn to for Help
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Teenagers: When someone you know is suicidal

Gay Suicide
Deaths by Suicide and Self-inflicted Injury age 15-24, 1991-1993
Get your ACE Card for

  1. Teens
    In Spanish

Secrets No More - We would like you to check this out and participate if you can.
Crisis Trends Through 3/31/17
Are You Feeling Suicidal? - Blog Post
Related Conditions

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Eating Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Songs about Suicide and Suicide Prevention
2017 Sixth Annual State of Safe Schools Report - Oregon

Home Page
Reports 2012-2023
Oregon Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Plan Annual Report 2019

Related stories: USA Today , Huffington Post, The Semicolon Tattoo Project Facebook , Newburg Oregon Girl Got A Clever Tattoo To Get The Conversation Going About Depression, BHSD Crisis Intervention Plan
Related topics:
Clustering, Contagion, Crisis Trends, Depression, Facebook Live , Guns, How to talk with your kids about suicide, Need to Talk?, Online Depression Screening Test , Mental Illness, Secrets No More, Semicolon Campaign, 741741 Crisis Text Line, Stigma, Suicide, Suicide Internationally, Suicide 10-14 Year-Olds, Teen Suicide, '13 Reasons Why', Warning Signs
Merchandise - Single card - $1.00 includes shipping, Positive Parenting Pack (all 34 cards) - $13.00 plus shipping


Never Alone
Life After Suicide BBC Documentary 2014
Suicide Room
Never Alone - BarlowGirl
Never Alone - Lady Antebellum
Breaking the silence about suicide in Oregon
Oregon Suicide: Breaking the Silence in Oregon - Part 1
Part 2 - Teens and Suicide
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Why Am I Depressed? - The Shocking Truth Behind Your Depression
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How To Deal With Depression - Tactics That Work Immediately
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Suicide Risk
Crisis Text Line - 741741
TED Talks - Crisis Next Line - Must See
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Songs that saved my life
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National Geographic Documentary 2015
Suicide And Suicidal Thoughts BBC Documentary Assisted Suicide 2015
Editor's warning: Part of this documentary shows how religious people try to interfere with a dying person's desire to end their suffering. They seem to be more interested in keeping someone suffering, especially when the medical community can't remove the pain and suffering. And, while the medical community has an ethics clause, is it really ethical to extend someone's suffering. We are only providing this video to show what the religious culture and it's religious laws often do to force people to live in pain. No wonder so many men end their lives with a gun, especially vets. Because they aren't allowed to exit this life. It's a sick level of a Christian Supremacists religious morality and the laws that those people who have taken over our laws to follow their religious teachings. It's a clear case of a coordination of religion and government.


Suicide death rates 2015
USA (3)
Curry County


Chg vs Prev/Yr

All ages
44,193 +3.3%







10-24 11th


10-34 2nd


35-44 3rd


25-44 Tied for 9th


45-64 5th

45-64 8th




65+ 6th



* Last years national mortality data are available from the CDC,Source: Source: www.comedsoc.org/Suicide_-_Oregon_Ranked_10th.htm?m=66&s=520
(3) https://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe

Teen students are more likely to take their life when:

Alcohol or drugs are involved
If their parents are divorced
If they have access to a gun
Are failing education
Are involved in teen pregnancy
Hear of other teen suicides
Have low self-esteem
Are highly sexually active.

Pay particular attention if they experience:

1. Loss of a loved one
2. Divorce or separation of their parents
3. Any major transition – new home, new school.
4.Traumatic life experiences, like living through a natural disaster
5.Teasing or bullying
6. Difficulties in school or with classmates

However, you never know

Young people don’t always know how to get through stressful times. Adults tend to end their lives because of major life stressors, but for an adolescent, the breaking point is often less significant.

Risk factors line up like lights on the street. For a student to go from thinking about suicide to attempting suicide, all these lights have to turn green. One light might be a fight with a parent. Another might be a flunked test, a breakup, a peer’s suicide. They might contemplate suicide for months, and then the final act is often on impulse, if everything falls into place. Teachers have even about a particular suicide. "If you would have given me 200 names, hers would have been at the bottom of the list of someone who would do this.”

Don’t be afraid of the “S” word.

You may be afraid to ask your child if they are having suicidal thoughts, assuming that you will put the idea in their head. Don’t worry. Either they are already having suicidal thoughts, in which case it may be a big relief to talk about it. If they haven’t, talking about it openly will allow them to bring the subject up again if this changes. And please note that even children younger than 12 do commit suicide.

Teen Suicide

Youth suicides are on the increase in the US. It is the third leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 (after motor vehicle accidence and unintentional injury). Two-thirds of all suicides under 25 were committed with firearms. Suicide is increasing, particularly for those under 14.

Youth and elderly suicides are on the increase in the US. And, according to The World Health Organization (WHO) over 786,000 people committed suicide around the world in 1997. This is an effective suicide rate of around 10.7 per 100,000 population per year. To put this statistic in perspective, that is the equivalent of one suicide every forty seconds, somewhere in the world.

Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in the US with 31,204 deaths recorded in 1995. This approximates to around one death every seventeen minutes. There are more suicides than homicides each year in the US.

From 1952 to 1992, the incidence of suicide among teens and young adults tripled. Today, it is the third leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 (after motor vehicle accidence and unintentional injury). Two-thirds of all suicides under 25 were committed with firearms (accounts for most of the increase in suicides from 1980 to 1992). The second most common method was hanging, third was poisoning. Suicide is increasing, particularly for those under 14 and in those over 65, while not the leading cause of death, the suicide rate is extremely high.

Young men commit suicide successfully at a higher rate than women in all 30 countries listed below. In the US, the ratio between men and women was 4.1:1 while in young people 15-24 the average ratio is 5.5:1 and the ratio increases with age within this group. In white males over 85, the suicide rate was 73.6/100,000 in 1993. For more information:  www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/10lc92c.htm ; www.nosuicide.com:80/stats.htm ; www/nimh.nih.gov/ ;www.nosoidice.com

The most common signs of a suicidal person

1. Difficulties with relationships between friends, family, and others
2. Feelings of isolation, or feeling unloved by others
3. Feeling like you can’t solve the problems you face
4. Impulsive and/or aggressive behavior when faced with a problem
5. Alcohol and/or drug abuse
6. Severe depression and persistent pessimism
7. Suicidal thoughts

How to Help Someone

1. Resist trying to help. People who feel suicidal don’t want answers or solutions. They want a safe place to express their fears and anxieties, to be themselves.

2. They want someone to trust. Someone who will respect them and won’t try to take charge. Someone who will treat everything in complete confidence.

3. They want someone to care. Someone who will make themselves available, put the person at ease and speak calmly. Someone who will reassure, accept and believe. Someone who will say, " care."

If the person is actively suicidal

Get help immediately. Do not leave your teen alone.

Ask your - "Are you thinking of suicide?" Asking someone if they are suicidal will not make them suicidal. Most likely they will be relieved that you have asked. Experts believe that most people are ambivalent about their wish to die.

Listen actively to what your teen is saying. Remain calm and do not judge what you are being told. Do not advise them not to feel the way they are.

Reassure your teen that there is help for their problems and that they are not "bad" or "stupid" because they are thinking about suicide.

Help your teen break down their problem(s) into more manageable pieces.

Offer to investigate counseling services.

Do not agree to keep their suicidal thoughts or plans a secret. Helping someone who is suicidal can be very stressful.

Suggest that they see a doctor for a complete physical. Although there are many things that family and friends can do to help, there may be underlying medical problems that require professional intervention. Your doctor can also refer patients to a psychiatrist, if necessary.

Encourage them to see a trained counselor. Do not be surprised if they refuse but be persistent. There are many types of caregivers for the suicidal. If the person will not go to a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, suggest, for example, they talk to a clergy, guidance counselor or teacher.

If you are concerned that someone you know may be thinking of suicide, you can help. Remember, as a helper, do not promise to do anything you do not want to do or that you cannot do.

Teen suicide is contagious, and the problem may be worse than we thought

Lucrecia Sjoerdsma knew what to watch for: the lingering moodiness, the sudden disinterest in what once brought joy. But her daughter, Riley Winters, a ninth-grader at Discovery Canyon Campus High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was always smiling—the 15-year-old used whitening strips because she loved showing off her perfect teeth. “Her smile really matched her personality,” Sjoerdsma says. A petite girl with brown hair that went just past her shoulders, Riley seemed to be a happy, goofy kid and a kind young woman who could sense when others were down and find a way to cheer them up. Riley liked hiking and rock climbing. She spoke of joining the military or becoming an archaeologist, a physical therapist or a dental hygienist. She had plenty of time to decide.

Even though her mother had no sense that Riley was having problems, she knew it was important to talk to her daughter about suicide, and so she did. Between 2013 and 2015, 29 kids in their county had killed themselves, many from just a handful of schools, including Riley’s. There had been gunshot deaths, hangings and drug overdoses. And then there were those choking deaths the victims’ parents insisted were accidental.

Riley knew of at least two of the kids who had killed themselves the previous winter: an older girl at school (they had mutual friends) and a boy in her Christian youth group. Such peripheral connections are all that seem to connect most of the kids in the area who had killed themselves, and school and county officials began to worry they were witnessing a copycat effect...until copycat became too weak a word. It was more like an outbreak, a plague spreading through school hallways.

About a year after Sjoerdsma and her daughter last spoke about suicide, Riley was staying at her father’s house one night when she downed a small bottle of whiskey, then sent out a series of troubling texts and Snapchat messages. “I’m sorry it had to be me,” she wrote to one friend. Then she slipped on a blue Patagonia fleece and snuck out the basement window, carrying her father’s gun.

When Riley’s mother and friends saw the messages, they went looking for her at local parks, gas stations and friends’ houses, all the while begging her via texts and calls to come home.

The next morning, they found her body in the woods behind her father’s house. She’d shot herself in the head.

Three days later, and two days before Riley’s memorial service, another Discovery Canyon Campus student killed himself. Her daughter probably knew the boy, but they weren’t close, Riley’s mother says. Nine days later, yet another classmate committed suicide. He had been on the swim team with the boy who’d just killed himself. And that wasn’t the end of it: Five students from the school of 1,180 died by suicide between late 2015 and summer 2016, a rate almost 49 times the yearly national average for kids their age.

It’s not just at that one school. As of mid-October, the total for teen suicides this year in El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs, is 13, one short of the total for all of 2015. Neighboring Douglas County had a similar crisis a few years ago, and news of a classmate’s suicide no longer fazes students in the area, kids say. “It’s become almost commonplace,” says Gracie Packard, a high school junior in Riley’s district. “Because it doesn’t happen once every four years. It happens four times in a month, sometimes.”

The youngest person to die this year in El Paso County was 13. “[Even] for a job that’s generally pretty tragic, it’s disheartening,” says Dr. Leon Kelly, the county’s deputy chief medical examiner. “You feel powerless. You feel like, Another one?

“Another day, another kid. It’s hard.”

Death on Instagram

Sociologists have long said people who form bonds are less likely to kill themselves, but sometimes the opposite is true—studies now show that one person’s suicidal behavior can spur another’s, and one death can lead to more deaths.

Decades of research prove that a startling range of emotions and behaviors can be contagious—from moodiness to yawning. Young people are especially susceptible; they obsess over fads and fashion trends and copy illicit behaviors from peers, such as smoking, drinking or speeding. Or suicide. Using a statistical formula typically applied to tracking outbreaks of diseases, researchers at Columbia University and other institutions confirmed in 1990 that suicide is contagious and can be transmitted between people. Contagion spreads either directly, by knowing a suicide victim, or indirectly, by learning of a suicide through word-of-mouth or the media. Those same researchers found that people ages 15 to 19 are two to four times more prone to suicide contagion than people in other age groups. The way it spreads can be so similar to that of diseases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sometimes gone into a region to investigate spikes in suicides.

Analysts call those spikes suicide clusters—an unusually high number of people in an area kill themselves (or attempt to) in a short period of time. The clusters tend to happen where people socialize, such as schools, psychiatric hospitals or military units. Madelyn Gould, one of the analysts who made the contagion discovery, has said these clusters make up between 1 and 5 percent of teen suicides but are vitally important to understand because “they represent a class of suicides that may be particularly preventable.” And a few consecutive suicides can devastate a community.

Another reason it is crucial to understand these clusters is that suicide is likely becoming more contagious, thanks in large part to social media. Analysts have long assumed that a suicide typically has a profound impact on six people, but that estimate is from the early 1970s and limited to close family members. Social networks (both online and in real life) are much bigger today, and soon-to-be-published research by Julie Cerel, president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology, shows that a suicide may now touch around 135 people, and about one-third of them experience a severe life disruption because of that suicide. She and her colleagues previously found, in 2015, that people who know a suicide victim are almost twice as likely to develop suicidal thoughts as the general population. The closer the relationship, the greater the risk; the younger the person exposed, the greater the risk.

Young people aren’t the only ones facing a suicide problem; the national suicide rate across all demographics is at an almost 30-year high. But more than three times as many teens are killing themselves now than in the 1950s. Most of these suicides aren’t copycats, but some areas across the country are suffering from the sort of contagion that has stricken Colorado Springs; the CDC investigated cases in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 2014 and Palo Alto, California, in 2016. Other clusters have likely gone undetected because it’s often so difficult to make the connections between victims.

Suicide prevention advocates tend to blame television and newspaper coverage for inspiring copycats, but for teens, social media are a growing problem. Instagram pages for kids who kill themselves sometimes contain hundreds of comments. Many are about how beautiful or handsome the deceased were, how they can finally rest in peace and how there should be a party for them in heaven. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says the message seems to be that if you kill yourself, you’ll not only end your suffering but also become the most popular kid in school. Teens sometimes have more than 1,000 Instagram followers, so kids far beyond one school or community can see digital shrines to dead friends. Moutier says those posts can seem as if they’re romanticizing death.

Scholars are struggling to keep up with the evolving technology, and they say there’s still a paucity of research on how suicidal thoughts spread through social media. “It makes these deaths no longer isolated,” says Cerel, and kids “are exposed and perhaps profoundly affected by someone they might have never even met in person.” Analysts say clusters could become harder to spot, because they typically occur in a specific area, but social networks for teens now spread far beyond a school, a neighborhood, even a city.

The Choking Game

It’s hard to identify “patient zero” in the Colorado Springs suicide outbreak because kids today are so interconnected, and the families involved have kept many details private. Researchers also know that they can’t limit their search to one group; the first suicide at one school may have been inspired by the death of a student at another. Other factors muddling the search: The coroner’s office doesn’t always track where the deceased went to school, and districts are hesitant to say how many teens they’ve lost to suicide, citing student privacy laws and fear of copycats. (Editor's note: In the 2014/15 Oregon Healthy Teen Survey, 3.6% of 8th graders and 0.8% of 11th graders had participated in the 'Chocking Game'. Comparing the two, it might appear that the increase in popularity of the acitive is a 450% increase in the last three years.)

One known precursor to the current wave of suicides was in 2011, when a Colorado Springs father found his 12-year-old son suspended from a bunk bed. The parents insist it was not a suicide and instead blame the “choking game,” in which a person cuts off blood flow to the brain and then releases it in order to feel lightheaded or even high. The coroner’s office ruled the cause of death “undetermined.” In 2013, a 15-year-old from the same school district strangled himself, and his parents blamed the choking game. The number of teen suicides started picking up in the spring of 2015, when a Discovery Canyon Campus student shot herself. The next month, three local kids took their own lives. From June to November, there were five more suicides in the Colorado Springs area; in December, there was on average one teen suicide per week. The deaths surged again toward the end of the last school year, beginning with Riley’s suicide.

Those tracking the situation are convinced it’s a contagion, but they’re unsure how it’s spreading. That makes it all the more frightening and difficult to stop. “It’s two years in a row we’ve dealt with the same sort of terrifying trend,” says Kelly, the medical examiner.

Colorado’s Child Fatality Prevention System, which investigated all youth suicides in the state from 2010 to 2014, identified risk factors, (105 page pdf) including family arguments, relationship breakups and physical or emotional abuse. Others blame regional factors, like the nearby Army and Air Force bases, as the children of people serving in the military are at elevated risk for suicidal thoughts. (A parent’s deployment can lead to increased responsibilities at home for a kid or emotional problems because of the separation and possibility of a parent’s death.) Some blame the high altitude, which researchers have linked to suicide.

Analysts also point out that young people don’t always know how to get through stressful times. Adults tend to end their lives because of major life stressors, Kelly says, but for a kid, the breaking point is often less significant. “These risk factors line up like lights on the street,” says Richard Lieberman, a mental health consultant for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “For a kid to go from thinking about suicide to attempting suicide, all these lights have to turn green.” One light might be a fight with a parent. Another might be a flunked test, a breakup, a peer’s suicide. Kids might contemplate suicide for months, and then the final act is often on impulse, “if everything falls into place,” says Scott Poland, a school crisis expert from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Poland and Lieberman are working with Discovery Canyon Campus and its district.

Riley didn’t show any obvious signs of mental health problems, according to her mother, and wasn’t in therapy or on medication. “Teachers even said, If you would have given me 200 names, hers would have been at the bottom of kids who would do this.”

But Riley was having trouble in the classroom—she fooled around during class, and her grades suffered, which added pressure. “She kept saying she hated school; she just didn’t want to be there,” Sjoerdsma says. She also struggled with her parents’ 2005 divorce. But even a few hours before her death, at a Christian youth group gathering she was dancing around and holding hands with friends, says Sjoerdsma, acting like “her normal self.” In the car with family friends on the way to her father’s house, Riley rolled down the window and stuck her hands outside. She liked to feel the cool mountain air on her palms. When she was dropped off, she told the people she was with that she’d see them tomorrow.

‘Unhang’ Yourself

A little more than a week after Riley’s suicide, Brittni Darras, an English teacher at a different school in the area, posted on Facebook that she had learned of another student’s attempted suicide during a parent-teacher conference. “As her mom sat across from me, we both had tears streaming down our faces,” Darras wrote. “Feeling helpless, I asked if I could write my student a letter to be delivered to her at the hospital.” The mother agreed. After the student received it, the mother emailed Darras to share what the girl had said: “How could somebody say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.”

Darras had lost a student to suicide a few years earlier. “It’s something that, as a teacher, you never entirely recover from,” she says. “Losing one in my teaching career was more than anybody should ever have to go through.” When she heard how the girl in the hospital had reacted, Darras decided to write letters to the rest of her 130 students. It took her two months. Her students were thankful, and word of what she did spread; nearly 200,000 people have shared her Facebook post.

Darras is one of many people in the Colorado Springs area fighting to stop the suicides. The initiative Safe2Tell, which began as a pilot program in the city in the 1990s and expanded statewide after the Columbine High School killings in 1999, lets young people anonymously report threats by others. State police receive the reports and connect with local law enforcement and schools to intervene. Last school year, Safe2Tell received 5,821 tips, up 68 percent from the previous year. The largest category involved suicide threats. “For years, in all the work in suicide prevention, we’ve really focused on one thing, and that is seeking help if you need it,” says Susan Payne, the initiative’s executive director. “That meant putting it on the victim that’s struggling to make a phone call or seek help.” Her program encourages bystanders to look for warning signs in others and report them.

Daniel Brewster wants that too. On December 31, 2015, hours before he and his daughter Danielle, 17, a Discovery Canyon Campus student, planned to celebrate the new year, she hanged herself. Brewster later looked at his daughter’s phone. “This is the part that kills me—I know she was texting other kids at the time and letting them know,” he says. She wrote, “My feet are off the floor,” and “Everything is getting hazy and dark.” None of the kids intervened; one responded by suggesting she “unhang.”

“Just having a meeting with [teens] and saying, ‘OK, here are the signs; here’s what you look for; here’s what you need to do’—that’s not enough,” Brewster says. “It needs to be ingrained in these kids’ heads, because they’re our first line of defense.” Of all the young people in Colorado who killed themselves from 2008 to 2012, more than a third had told someone of their plans, according to a state report.

Danielle’s was one of at least three teen suicides in the Colorado Springs area in a three-week span. Then, six weeks later, Danielle’s mother hanged herself in her daughter’s bedroom. “They’re supposed to be here,” Brewster says, choking on the words. “We’re supposed to be in this house together.”

Some local students are starting their own prevention efforts. Gracie Packard was in the eighth grade when she set a date to kill herself. She had struggled with anxiety and depression since she was young and later practiced cutting. She couldn’t sleep, her grades were slipping, and she was losing weight. She would cancel plans with friends and stopped dancing, once a passion of hers. Meanwhile, other kids around town, as well as one of her siblings, were killing themselves or attempting to. “It was pretty much all around you,” she says. She recalls telling herself, “If things aren’t better by this date, then you’ve tried your best, and you can end it.”

Her friends sensed something was wrong. Days before she planned to die, they staged an intervention. “We’re worried about you,” they told her. Their concern, plus a suicide prevention nonprofit she stumbled upon called To Write Love on Her Arms, convinced her to ask her mom for help. “I was physically shaking. I could hardly breathe,” she says. But “that 30 seconds of bravery in being willing to say out loud to somebody you trust that, ‘Hey, I’m not OK,’ it’s going to be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do, but it will be one of the best things you’ll ever do.” She soon started therapy. Now 17, Gracie shares her mental health story publicly and advocates for suicide prevention. An event she hosted in September drew 150 people.

City and school officials are also working to stem the rising death toll. Last spring, the El Paso County Public Health department hired a specialist to create a screening system to identify young people at risk.

But not all parents are willing to address the problem. Kelly, the medical examiner, says family members almost always request that his office cite a cause of death other than suicide, such as the choking game. “I’ve had relatives ask me if I would call it an autoerotic asphyxia because they didn’t want to tell Grandpa that his grandson had committed suicide,” he says. “That really speaks to what we as Americans think about mental illness.” None of the obituaries for the Colorado Springs kids seem to mention suicide (a common omission everywhere), and it’s unlikely that their memorial services included more than a vague reference.

Some worry that discussing suicide might inspire more kids to do it, but just because suicidal behavior can spread quickly doesn’t mean it has to. Moutier, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says thinking suicide is contagious might give young people the impression that anyone can “catch” it, even a stable, happy kid. That’s not true, she says.

Whether the parents of the deceased will admit it or not, suicide in most cases involves an underlying mental health condition. Researchers have found that if someone close to an adolescent dies by suicide, the adolescent’s mental health history is a bigger predictor of future suicidal behavior than his or her relationship to the suicide victim.

El Paso County’s most recent teen suicide was on September 19—a hanging on school grounds. Because teen suicides there tend to spike at the end of semesters—when students may feel as if they’re losing whatever support they had at school, Kelly says—officials may not know until winter break if things are improving. Students aren’t necessarily sending panicked glances around the classroom, wondering whom this plague will strike next. They have other things to worry about—exams, rehearsals, sports games, college applications. “When it first happens, that’s all that is on everyone’s mind,” says Chloe Love, a junior at Discovery Canyon Campus, who does suicide prevention work. Then they move on. They have to. “Sometimes,” she says, “the memories just hurt too much.”

Sjoerdsma says she won’t hide how Riley died. “I’m fully aware that my daughter committed suicide, and I don’t know why.” She has done social work, and her husband is a local middle school teacher; neither saw the signs. Since her daughter’s death, she hasn’t been sleeping well, and the spate of suicides makes the grieving process more difficult. At night, she often lies awake, thinking about how she and Riley used to say good night: “I love you here to heaven,” Sjoerdsma would say. “I love you back to heaven,” Riley would respond.

Sjoerdsma still says it every night. Only now, there’s no one to say it back.

Myths and facts about mental health

There are myths about mental health conditions that simply aren’t true. Unfortunately, these negative stereotypes prevent many people from reaching out and getting the help they need. By understanding the truth about mental health, you can spread the word to help raise awareness and fight stigma.

Myth: People with mental health conditions never get better

Fact: Treatment works for more than 8 in 10 people who get help for depression, and as many as 9 in 10 people who get help for panic attacks.†

†Source: Mental Health America

Myth: People with mental health conditions are just weak

Fact: Many factors can impact mental health — including biology, environment, and challenging life events. Anyone can develop a mental health condition — there’s no single cause, and it isn’t anyone’s fault.

Myth: If I get treatment, my employer will find out

Fact: You decide who you want to tell — and not tell — about your care. Your medical record is confidential, and you can’t lose your job or your health insurance for getting treatment for a mental health or addiction issue.

Myth: If I get treatment, I’ll have to take medication

Fact: There are many types of treatment. Medication is just one of them — and it’s typically combined with therapy, self-care resources, and other types of support. We don’t automatically recommend medication to everyone — it’s a personal decision members and providers make together.
Source: kp.org

"So You Wanna Kill Yourself?  Gays and Suicide."

Gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts and the numbers increase exponentially during the holidays. This story appears in the Dec/Jan 99 issue of Genre and examines the issues behind why they are taking their own lives, and offers some solutions to the holiday blues. (Also see our own # 7 Happy Holidaze A report from P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) states that in a study of 5,000 gay men and women, 35 percent of gay men and 38 percent of lesbians have considered or attempted suicide. The statistics are even higher among gay teens: The Department of Health study indicates that gay youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens, and gay teenagers account for up to 30 percent of all teenage suicides in the nation.

"Far more women suffer from depression that men do, so it seems odd that women would commit suicide at only one-fourth the rate of men. The key difference between the two sexes may be that women talk out their problems. George E. Murphy, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says that women may be protected because they are more likely to consider the consequences of suicide on family members or others. Women also approach personal problems differently than men and more often seek help long before they reach the point of considering suicide. 'As a result, women get better treatment for their depressions,' Murphy says. To reduce the rate of suicide in men, Murphy suggests that physicians should be alert for risk factors in men and refer them into treatment. Writing in the Journal of Comprehensive Psychiatry, he says that identifying men at risk require mental health professionals to recognize that depressed men may understate emotional distress or difficulty with their problems."  Black Men, 3/99.
Source:  HealthScout, www.healthscout.com

It's important for people with suicidal feelings to let themselves be assisted in overcoming deep depression. It's also a good idea to talk about your feelings with friends. No man is an island and there's nothing wrong with leaning on people who love you in times of need.

See Suicide Prevention Services available locally. Dial 411 for your city's Suicide Prevention Hotline, or try your local Gay & Lesbian Center, which offers referrals for counseling, domestic violence and suicide prevention. Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 by texting "SOS" to 741741

Time-Space Clustering of Teenage Suicide

The occurrence of time-space clusters was examined in national mortality data on suicide among adolescents aged 15–19 years obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Detail Files for 1978–1984. The analyses indicated that overall significant time-space clustering occurred among 15–19 year olds. The authors thus believe that they have documented for the first time that outbreaks of suicide occur more frequently than expected by chance alone. The occurrence of suicide dusters among teenagers appeared to vary considerably by state and year of investigation. There is some indication that there has been an increase In teenage clusters in more recent years.

Teens’ brains make them more vulnerable to suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens 15 to 19 years old, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

‘The young are heated by nature as drunken men by wine.”

Aristotle made that observation 2,300 years ago, and since then, not much has changed about the way the adolescent brain behaves. But these days, researchers are beginning to understand exactly why a teenager’s brain is so tempestuous, and what biological factors may make teens’ brains vulnerable to mood disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens 15 to 19 years old, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of high school students who reported seriously considering suicide increased from 14 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2011. Locally, the city of Newton is reeling from the suicide of Roee Grutman, 17, a high school junior, in February, the third suicide in a single school year. The towns of Needham and New Bedford have experienced similar spates of teen suicides in recent years.

Misconceptions about teen suicide abound, says Dr. Barry N. Feldman, director of psychiatric programs in public safety at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a suicide prevention expert who has worked with many Massachusetts high schools

Neither bullying, pressure to succeed in sports or academics, nor minority sexual orientation can cause suicide, he says, but are among a number of possible risk factors. “If you focus too much on just bullying or sexual orientation, you take your eye off the underlying vulnerability a kid may have,” Feldman says.

Warning signs that a teen is in danger for suicide

Suicide is typically caused by a constellation of risk factors and underlying vulnerabilities. “It’s an attempt to solve a problem of intense pain with impaired problem-solving skills,” he says.

Researchers have long known that the basic problem with the teenage brain is the “asymmetric” or unbalanced way the brain develops, said Dr. Timothy Wilens, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital specializing in adolescents, addictions, and attention deficit disorder.

The hippocampus and amygdala, which Wilens calls the “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” part of the brain, feels and stores emotions and is associated with impulses. It matures well ahead of the section of the brain that regulates those emotions and impulses, the prefrontal cortex.

Throughout the teenage years and up until about age 25, this executive section of the brain, also responsible for planning and decision, lags behind, Wilens says.

Until the front part of the brain catches up, if kids get sad, “they really experience sadness un-tethered.” He adds. “It’s why first love really does break the heart.”

It’s during this period of brain development that kids often act out based on their moods, get involved in substance abuse, and when they may be at a heightened risk to commit suicide, Wilens says. This is also when adolescents have a higher susceptibility to psychiatric disorders including depression, drug addiction, and schizophrenia.

Dr. Mai Uchida, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mass. General, is leading two joint studies at the MGH Biederman Lab and the Gabrieli Lab at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology that are searching for biomarkers to identify the underlying vulnerability in teens. The studies are funded by The Tommy Fuss Fund, which memorializes a Belmont Hill teen who committed suicide in 2006.

Just as hypertension and high cholesterol are biomarkers for heart attack, mood disorders are indicators of kids at risk for suicide, Uchida said.

In a healthy teen, even though brain structure is unbalanced, the developing prefrontal cortex still should be communicating and working in concert with the brain section that feels and stores emotion, according to Uchida.

In one of the studies, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 38 children between the ages of 8 and 14 who had a parent with a depressive disorder with a control group of 25 children with no genetic predisposition.

Looking at the brains while the children were in a resting state the researchers saw less synchronized activation between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex in the kids who had a genetic predisposition for depressive disorder than in the control group.

The fact that these two brain regions are not activating together could be a potential biomarker, indicating a vulnerability for potential mental or mood disorders.

In the second study — in which 62 subjects between ages 18 and 24 were given pictures of people crying and asked to think about a positive way to interpret the picture — the subjects who could not spin a positive narrative also showed less connectivity between the brain regions.

“These deficits could represent a unique biological vulnerability that puts youth at risk for depression and suicide,” Uchida said.

Uchida and her team are currently readying these two studies for publication. She says there is a lot more work to do, but she is hopeful the results might eventually lead to early-intervention screening.

In a study published in December, researchers at the Douglas Institute Research Centre affiliated with McGill University identified the gene known as DCC as having a possible role during the maturation of the prefrontal cortex and in healthy brain connectivity.

Higher function or expression of DCC appears to be associated with a greater risk of psychiatric disorders, depression, and suicide, according to Cecilia Flores, a professor of psychiatry at McGill and lead author of the study.

“We are very excited to discover the function of this gene,” she said. Experiments in mice also showed that DCC gene function could be altered by both positive and negative experiences, and influences behaviors later in a rodent’s adult life. If the results translate to humans, Flores said, it offers hope that early therapy and support during the critical time in adolescent brain development could have long-term positive impact.

Wilens says that one of the most useful early interventions for adolescents who might have depression, mood, or attention deficit disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy, a non-pharmaceutical approach that can help teach kids how thoughts and thought patterns influence behaviors.

These are areas in which kids are lacking because of the imbalance of brain development, and could assist them in making better connections between what they are feeling and what they are thinking.

“It helps put it all together and has a component that gets you to stop doing something that may harm you,” Wilens said.

Feldman encourages parents and school systems to create protective “buffers” — a caring relationship with an adult, whether that is a parent, guardian, teacher, or someone in the community. UMass Medical is currently collaborating with the Department of Public Health and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to train school personnel to develop comprehensive programs that include suicide intervention and prevention.

And parents and students are urged to take the warning signs of a troubled and potentially suicidal teen seriously. “Don’t casually dismiss signs as a cry for help,” Feldman says. Teens at risk for suicide should be taken to a hospital emergency room or somewhere where they can get immediate mental health services. “Don’t make an appointment for a doctor down the road.”

Approach to adolescent suicide prevention

Teen suicide has increased 4-fold in the past 40 years1 and is now the second leading cause of death in this age group.2 The number 1 risk factor for youth suicide is the presence of mental illness.3,4 Because youth do not usually present to their family physicians with psychological symptoms as the chief complaint,5 physicians need to be on alert for symptoms and risk factors that suggest the development of psychiatric illness and suicide risk. This article will review such risk factors and provide information and resources to assist family physicians in assessing and managing youth at risk of suicide and mental illness.

Sources of information

A literature review was performed using Ovid MEDLINE with the key words suicide, attempted suicide, and evaluation studies or program evaluation, adolescent.

Challenges for family physicians The following case presentation illustrates the complexity of dilemmas presented to family physicians who work with adolescents with mental health concerns. This review of adolescent suicide will equip physicians with an approach to help such patients.

Case description

Sarah, a 16-year-old patient you have not seen in several years, has booked an appointment to discuss starting birth control pills. Sarah’s mother was at the office last week for renewal of antidepressant medication and mentioned that Sarah has been very irritable at home and once yelled, “I might as well be dead!” You know that Sarah’s parent’s divorced last year. While taking Sarah’s blood pressure you notice that she has several scars from superficial cuts to her left wrist. How can you address these issues and determine her risks?

Morbidity and mortality

Canada witnesses more than 500 suicides per year among those 15 to 24 years old, with the next most common cause of death being cancer at 156 deaths per year.6 It has been estimated that for each completed suicide, there are approximately 400 attempts.7 Many high-school students contemplate suicide,3 and with the shortage of pediatric psychiatrists, much of the burden of identifying and treating high-risk youth is placed on family physicians.

This article has been peer reviewed. Cet article a fait l’objet d’une révision par des pairs Can Fam Physician 2010;56:755-60

Facebook and Twitter 'harm young people's mental health'

Poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter increased feelings of inadequacy and anxiety

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

“It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people,” said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

She demanded tough measures “to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing”. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

The 1,479 young people surveyed were asked to rate the impact of the five forms of social media on 14 different criteria of health and wellbeing, including their effect on sleep, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-identity, bullying, body image and the fear of missing out.

Instagram emerged with the most negative score. It rated badly for seven of the 14 measures, particularly its impact on sleep, body image and fear of missing out – and also for bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. However, young people cited its upsides too, including self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories, notably awareness and understanding of other people’s health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

However, the leader of the UK’s psychiatrists said the findings were too simplistic and unfairly blamed social media for the complex reasons why the mental health of so many young people is suffering.

Prof Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.. We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media – good and bad – to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.”

Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

Tom Madders, its director of campaigns and communications, said: “Prompting young people about heavy usage and signposting to support they may need, on a platform that they identify with, could help many young people.”

However, he also urged caution in how content accessed by young people on social media is perceived. “It’s also important to recognise that simply ‘protecting’ young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution. We need to support young people so they understand the risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters.”

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel worried and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

May, who has made children’s mental health one of her priorities, highlighted social media’s damaging effects in her “shared society” speech in January, saying: “We know that the use of social media brings additional concerns and challenges. In 2014, just over one in 10 young people said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet.”

In February, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, warned social media and technology firms that they could face sanctions, including through legislation, unless they did more to tackle sexting, cyberbullying and the trolling of young users.
Source: www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-social-media-sites-harm-young-peoples-mental-health

Teen Suicides: What Are the Risk Factors? Temperament, family and community all play a role


One of the myths about suicidal talk, and actual suicide attempts, in young people is that they are just a bid for attention or “a cry for help.” Kids who talk or write about killing themselves are dismissed as overly dramatic—obviously they don’t mean it! But a threat of suicide should never be dismissed, even from a kid who cries “Wolf!” so many times it’s tempting to stop taking her seriously. It’s important to respond to threats and other warning signs in a serious and thoughtful manner. They don’t automatically mean that a child is going to attempt suicide. But it’s a chance you can’t take.

When thinking about this, it helps to understand what factors make a young person more or less likely to consider or attempt suicide. What do we know about young people who try to kill themselves, or who actually die by suicide? Let’s take a look at both the risk factors—things that increase the likelihood that a child will engage in suicidal behavior—and the protective factors, or things that reduce the risk.

If a child has a lot of risk factors and hardly any protective factors you need to be extremely concerned about him. On the other hand, if he has a fair number of risk factors but a lot of protective factors you may be somewhat less concerned, although you still, of course, need to be concerned.

Here are some key suicide risk factors:

  • A recent or serious loss. This might include the death of a family member, a friend or a pet. The separation or a divorce of parents, or a breakup with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, can also be felt as a profound loss, along with a parent losing a job, or the family losing their home.
  • A psychiatric disorder, particularly a mood disorder like depression, or a trauma- and stress-related disorder.
  • Prior suicide attempts increase risk for another suicide attempt.
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders, as well as getting into a lot of trouble, having disciplinary problems, engaging in a lot of high-risk behaviors.
  • Struggling with sexual orientation in an environment that is not respectful or accepting of that orientation. The issue is not whether a child is gay or lesbian, but whether he or she is struggling to come out in an unsupportive environment.
  • A family history of suicide is something that can be really significant and concerning, as is a history of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect.
  • Lack of social support. A child who doesn’t feel support from significant adults in her life, as well as her friends, can become so isolated that suicide seems to present the only way out of her problems.
  • Bullying. We know that being a victim of bullying is a risk factor, but there’s also some evidence that kids who are bullies may be at increased risk for suicidal behavior.
  • Access to lethal means, like firearms and pills.
  • Stigma associated with asking for help. One of the things we know is that the more hopeless and helpless people feel, the more likely they are to choose to hurt themselves or end their life. Similarly, if they feel a lot of guilt or shame, or if they feel worthless or have low self-esteem.
  • Barriers to accessing services: Difficulties in getting much-needed services include lack of bilingual service providers, unreliable transportation, and the financial cost of services.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that suicide is a noble way to resolve a personal dilemma.

But what about protective factors, things that can mitigate the risk of engaging in suicidal behavior?

Here are some key protective factors:

  • Good problem-solving abilities. Kids who are able to see a problem and figure out effective ways to manage it, to resolve conflicts in non-violent ways, are at lower risk.
  • Strong connections. The stronger the connections kids have to their families, to their friends, and to people in the community, the less likely they are to harm themselves. Partly, that’s because they feel loved and supported, and partly because they have people to turn to when they’re struggling and feel really challenged.
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and that support self-preservation.
  • Relatively easy access to appropriate clinical intervention, whether that be psychotherapy, individual, group, family therapy, or medication if indicated.
  • Effective care for mental, physical, and substance use disorders. Good medical and mental health care involves ongoing relationships, making kids feel connected to professionals who take care of them and are available to them.

So what do you do if your child fits the profile of someone at risk for youth suicide? Warning signs of suicide to be alert to include changes in personality or behavior that might not be obviously related to suicide. When a teenager becomes sad, more withdrawn, more irritable, anxious, tired, or apathetic—things that used to be fun aren’t fun anymore—you should be concerned. Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits can also be red flags.

Acting erratically, or recklessly is also a warning sign. If a teen starts making really poor judgments, or he starts doing things that are harmful to himself or other people, like bullying or fighting, it can be a sign that he is spinning out of control.

And, finally, if a child is talking about dying, you should always pay attention. “I wish I was dead.” “I just want to disappear.” “Maybe I should jump off that building.” “Maybe I should shoot myself.” “You’d all be better off if I wasn’t around.” When you hear this kind of talk, it’s important to take it seriously—even if you can’t imagine your child meaning it seriously.

What to do? The first thing to do is talk.

For more information and resources on suicide, see the APA’s suicide help page.
Source: childmind.org/article/teen-suicides-risk-factors/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Teen%20Suicide%20Risk%20Factors&utm_campaign=Weekly-6-12-18

Coping With A Parent’s Suicide How to help the children who are left behind

When a parent dies, it’s always painful for a child. And a parent’s death by suicide—especially, research shows, a mother’s suicide—has an even more painful and potentially disturbing effect

As with all traumatic events, the way in which kids are supported in processing their feelings about the loss affects how successfully they will recover. Children are very resilient, and while a parent’s suicide will never stop being an important event in their lives, with help they can recover their emotional health and vitality.

When children experience the sudden death of a parent, they go through what we call traumatic grieving. This kind of death is not just a painful thing to assimilate; it triggers an emotionally complicated or conflicted process.

Healthy grieving

When a death is shocking and disturbing it generates frightening thoughts, images, and feelings a child may want desperately to avoid. In the case of a suicide, children may have feelings toward or about their parent that they feel are unacceptable, that they want to deny. So they try to block them out, by not talking or thinking about the person they’ve lost, who they may feel has betrayed them, or rejected them. But to grieve in a healthy way, it’s necessary to think about the person you’ve lost, and allow yourself to feel sadness and pain. Kids need to be able to remember the parent they’ve lost as a loving person despite his or her flaws.

Even more than an accidental death, a suicide generates horror, anger, shame, confusion, and guilt—all feelings that a child can experience as overwhelming. The biggest risk to a child’s emotional health is not being able, or encouraged, to express these feelings, and get an understanding of what happened that he or she can live with. When a mother who has been depressed commits suicide, for instance, we want that understanding to be that she suffered from a mental illness, a disorder in her brain that caused her death, despite the efforts of those who loved her to save her.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that children who are under 18 when their parents commit suicide are three times as likely as children with living parents to later commit suicide themselves. This highlights the vital importance of providing support to children who are grieving. Not only are we treating the trauma of sudden parental loss, we are also trying to break the suicide cycle in families.

Supporting children

What do children need most in the aftermath of a suicide? First, they require simple and honest answers to their questions. They need to know that their feelings are acceptable: anger at a mother or a father who committed suicide is normal, and it doesn’t mean a betrayal of the love you have, or the terrible loss you may be feeling. If the person who died has been mentally ill for a long time, a child might actually feel relieved at the death, and that, too, he or she needs to be allowed to feel.

After a suicide, children need to know that they’re not to blame. Being natural narcissists, kids tend to put themselves at the center of the narrative: If I had behaved better, if I had come home right after school, if I had tried harder to cheer Mom or Dad up, etc., this wouldn’t have happened. What we want them to understand is that the parent was ill. We did our best to help, but it didn’t succeed. This isn’t an understanding that’s achieved in one conversation; it’s something that has to be worked on over time.

It helps children recover to keep their lives as normal as possible—to return to routines as soon as possible, to return to school and regular activities.

Signs of trauma

When should you worry about a child failing to recover in a healthy way? Though it’s difficult to distinguish problem behavior from the expected process of grieving, there are some key things to look for.

With a “regular” traumatic experience, like being close to an accident, an attack, a disaster, we expect signs of recovery in about a month. But the timetable for grieving is less clear, so the recovery process can take longer. If a child’s sadness and withdrawal from normal activities don’t dissipate over time, and they begin to cause impairment—refusal to go to school, changes in sleep habits, a decrease in appetite, irritability—they can be cause for concern.

The biggest sign that someone is not grieving in a natural way is a disturbed relation to the memory of the loved one. This can include avoiding places or situations that might remind a child of the parent who died, emotional numbing, or selective amnesia about the traumatic loss. On the other hand, it can manifest as intrusive thoughts about the event. These all get in the way of the process of forming memories of a parent that’s part of the healthy grieving process.

Who is at most risk for suffering long-lasting trauma? Children with avoidant personalities or extreme anxiety will more easily fall into an unhealthy coping style. Children who have experienced other traumas are also more likely to respond poorly, given the “practice” they have had. Kids who lack strong support networks—both within the family and within the community at large—suffer more. And girls, for reasons we don’t fully understand, appear three times more likely to have traumatic reactions to disturbing events.

Finally, when we imagine a child’s experience of the loss of a parent to suicide, we need to recognize that the family may have been struggling with mental illness, and often addiction, for years, which must surely have taken a toll. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the antidote to traumatic grief is honesty, loving support, and the continuation of the family in its strongest possible form.

Read More:

Helping Children Cope With Grief
The Teacher’s Role When Tragedy Strikes
Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event

Source: childmind.org/article/coping-with-a-parents-suicide/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Coping%20With%20a%20Parent%27s%20Suicide&utm_campaign=Weekly-6-12-18

The Teacher’s Role When Tragedy Strikes: Healing for students dealing with tragedy begins in the classroom


When death intrudes in the lives of children in a school community, the classroom is one of the key settings in which kids will experience grief and anxiety, and struggle to come to terms with their feelings.

I wish I could give you words that would protect the youngsters in your class from grief and fear. But since that’s not possible, I offer some thoughts and guidelines, based on my experience, to help you help them process their feelings in a healthy way.

Acknowledge the loss

When a tragedy involves a school community—especially when the lives of students or teachers are lost—it’s likely that it will be in the classroom where the loss may be felt most keenly. Some kids may be very uncomfortable with that awareness. That means it’s particularly important for you to acknowledge the loss and give your students an opportunity to express their feelings about the traumatic event.

Give kids time to talk

Though there may be a school-wide meeting or service on helping children cope, for many kids in the classroom will be the most important setting for asking questions, sharing feelings, and offering memories. Studies have found that children are more able to get comfort from adults they know well, and even from other children, than from crisis experts who are not familiar to them. Studies also show that adults listening to children is more important in this kind of situation than knowing the perfect thing to say to them: A comfortable and safe setting where kids are allowed to be sad and upset and confused is the most valuable thing you can offer.

Encourage questions

We recommend that you convene a group discussion, in whatever style is familiar to your kids, and let them know that you’re sad, and many others are sad, and that when a tragedy happens and we lose friends and classmates, it’s important to talk about how we feel and how we want to remember them. You should invite, but not force, questions, and answer them as simply as possible, in a developmentally appropriate way.

Address safety concerns

Since young children are egocentric, it’s likely that some of your students will be worried about their own safety. Could the same thing happen to them? If it was a fire, reassure them that house fires are very rare in this day and age, and remind them about safety measures like fire drills that are taken in schools. If it was an act of violence, you can stress, again, efforts by their parents and teachers to make sure they are safe. If they ask questions you can’t answer, it’s okay to tell them you don’t know.

Return to routine

After you’ve given them plenty of time to formulate their questions, express their feelings, and respond to each other, it’s important to go back to your regular routine. That’s not only because you’re trying to model healthy resilience, but because routine is deeply comforting for children.

Memorialize the lost

Keep in mind that the first time you talk about a tragic event that affects your children won’t be the last time. Coming to terms with loss takes time, and will involve transitioning to positive ways to memorialize those who were lost, as a classroom and as a school. In your conversation (and subsequent ones) you can suggest ways the class might remember friends and classmates they miss: write stories about things you did together, draw pictures, plant trees, raise money to donate to children in need. It’s helpful to remind children that a person continues to live on in the hearts and minds of others. And doing something that benefits other children not only helps them feel good about themselves, but helps them learn a very healthy way to respond to grief in the future.

Teach and model resilience

Remember that, as with everything you do as a teacher, you are teaching, and modeling, and allowing children to devise for themselves ways to handle challenges in a positive way. It’s a skill that will be as important in their lives as reading and writing, and worth your efforts to nurture when kids are in crisis.

Read More:

Helping Children Cope With Frightening News
Signs of Trauma in Children
A Look at Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD

Source: childmind.org/article/teachers-role-tragedy-strikes/

Supporting Children After the Suicide of a Classmate: Responding to a painful loss in the healthiest way possible

We know there’s no way we can make the suicide of a student less upsetting. It’s a very painful thing for kids — and the adults who love them — to experience. But we also know that there are things that you can do to help young people process their feelings and thoughts in a healthy way. Here are some pointers that we hope will be helpful in responding to this loss.

  • It’s important that suicide be acknowledged in a matter-of-fact way, but do not provide children and teens with a lot of details about the specific method of suicide. Teachers and parents should convey consistent messages to reduce confusion, misinformation and secrecy.
  • Suicide should be explained in terms of an untreated psychiatric illness. People sometimes hide emotional pain even from those they are closest to, which makes it very hard to help them. You should avoid sensationalizing or dramatizing suicide, but you shouldn’t avoid talking about it.
  • Parents, encourage your child to tell you what she’s hearing and thinking, and listen nonjudgmentally. You want to keep checking in with her, because it takes time for kids to process disturbing experiences, and she may have important questions later. Teens will want to talk about this with their friends, but you can let her know that you want to stay in the loop.
  • If your child has depression or has made a prior suicide attempt, it’s especially important to prioritize this conversation. Don’t avoid it because it’s difficult and you’re worried that it might make him feel worse. Drawing out his thoughts and feelings and underscoring your connection can help him, even if he doesn’t acknowledge it. Unfortunately, suicides sometimes occur in multiples, so it’s very important to increase monitoring of children who are at risk. It’s also important to remember that talking about suicide and/or asking your child if they’re suicidal will not increase their risk of actually completing a suicide; it may actually decrease the risk.
  • Some kids may feel guilty, feeling that there’s something they could have done to prevent it. Let them know that this is a common feeling when a loss is very difficult to accept; we can’t help thinking about what we should or could have done differently. Help them understand that they are not responsible, and that when we learn of something so unexpected, it takes some time for the shock to wear off before we can start to understand what happened and eventually accept it.
  • It’s healthy for the school community to respond to a loss like this with an organized celebration of his or her life or memorial, and for the school community to attend the funeral, if it accords with the family’s wishes.
  • Sometimes teens turn to alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors as a way of coping with painful loss. Monitor children closely and explain to them that it’s normal to experience a range of intense emotions — sadness, anger, confusion — sometimes all at once. Come up with a few strategies for managing these feelings, such as talking to friends, talking with a parent or trusted adult, running or other intense exercise, deep breathing, allowing herself to cry, etc. This is called “coping ahead,” or anticipating potential difficulties and how to deal with them.
  • Two key factors are involved in suicide (and both stem from depression). The first is having the desire to die, which comes from thinking you are a burden or feeling like you don’t belong. Kids and adults sometimes mistakenly think that people will be better off without them around. To counteract this, adults should tell kids very clearly that it would be devastating if they died. The second risk factor is the ability to die, which comes from planning and getting used to pain and fear. Kids who self-injure are at higher risk for suicide because they override their self-preservation drive and get used to feeling pain. Learning how other people have killed themselves also increases a person’s ability. For more on this I recommend reading Myths About Suicide by Thomas Joiner, PhD, a preeminent suicide researcher.

Grieving and coming to terms with a disturbing death take time, and there’s nothing we do can do to bypass or hurry the process. But by giving kids opportunities to share their feelings we can help them rebound in a healthy way. And by talking about suicide openly and matter-of-factly, as the result of an emotional illness, we can help kids put it in a realistic and useful perspective.

Read our guide Helping Children Cope With Grief for more information.
Source: childmind.org/article/supporting-children-after-the-suicide-of-a-classmate/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Supporting%20Children%20After%20the%20Suicide%20of%20a%20Classmate&utm_campaign=Weekly-6-12-18

After Rash of Teen Suicides in Palo Alto, the CDC Sends Team to Investigate

Take a walk around Palo Alto, California, on a sunny afternoon, and it can seem like a place where nothing ever goes wrong. The sky is a vibrant blue, flowering bushes spill over from well-tended lawns and the temperature is just right. But all is not well in this Silicon Valley town.

Six young people in Palo Alto died by suicide in 2009 and 2010, and another four in 2014 and 2015. Several among them took their lives on the tracks of the Caltrain, the commuter train that runs through town and connects San Francisco and San Jose. Of high school students in Palo Alto surveyed during the 2013-2023 school year, 12 percent had seriously considered suicide in the last year. From the beginning of the following school year through March, 42 students at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto had been hospitalized or treated for “significant suicide ideation.” Overall, the suicide rate at Palo Alto’s two public high schools in the past decade is four times the national average.

Following the two clusters of youth suicides in Palo Alto in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have sent a five-person team to conduct an epidemiological assessment, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The California Department of Public Health issued a formal request for help from the federal agency on behalf of Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

“I really appreciate when we can have federal support and can leverage that expertise at a local level,” Mary Gloner, executive director of the Palo Alto–based Project Safety Net, told the Mercury News.

The inquiry will be in the form of what’s called an “Epi-Aid,” or an investigation of an urgent public health problem. Over the past few months, the CDC has been working with Santa Clara County health officials to prepare for the visit, collecting data on fatal and non-fatal suicidal behavior among youth in the area between 2008 and 2015.

The team was scheduled to arrive in the area Tuesday and is expected to conduct fieldwork in Palo Alto and the surrounding Santa Clara County through February 29, reviewing data and convening informal meetings with community groups to discuss suicide prevention strategies already in place and other potential programs.

The main goals of the assessment, according to a fact sheet posted on Project Safety Net’s website, are to identify and track trends in suicidal behavior among youth between 2008 and 2015; examine whether media coverage met safe reporting guidelines for suicide; inventory youth suicide prevention policies, activities and protocols; compare those to national and other evidence-based recommendations; and, ultimately, use all of that information and insight to “make recommendations on youth suicide prevention strategies that can be used at the school, city, and county level.”

Though “Epi-Aid” investigations are usually directed toward infectious disease outbreaks, the Santa Clara County assessment is not without precedent. In November 2014, the CDC sent a team to Fairfax, Virginia, to conduct a similar investigation of youth suicides, culminating in a 224-page report detailing its findings, provided to the Fairfax County Health Department in June 2015. According to the Mercury News, the “Epi-Aid” team that arrived in Palo Alto on Tuesday will release a preliminary report soon after it completes its field work and follow up with a more comprehensive report in several months.

News of the assessment comes just a few months after The Atlantic published a cover story by Hanna Rosin titled “The Silicon Valley Suicides,” which tried to understand why “so many kids with bright prospects [are] killing themselves in Palo Alto.

Native American Youth Suicide

Flying With Eagles holds Native American Youth Evaluation and Training Events wherever they are deemed necessary to access, explore, inform and educate Native American youth and adults regarding the solutions for the increasing problematic areas they face in today’s world.


1. Identify problems of those participating Native American youth from their perspective as it relates to drug, alcohol and substance abuse along with physical and sexual abuse.

2. Evaluate the depth and source of the problem.

3. Identify intervention services to combat these problems by overcoming the source of the problem and the perceived solution.

4. Implement methods to address appropriate counseling services in local areas and on a regional basis.

5. Attempt to identify the cause of the suicide attempts among the Native American youth in the area.

6. Locate and recruit participation in the development and correctional programs from positive role models from the local surrounding Native American community.

7. Develop participation in the programs by Native American youth utilizing a peer guidance and community support program.

Flying With Eagles, Inc., is registered in Pennsylvania as a not for profit corporation. Flying With Eagles,Inc., is a public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Warning Signs and Major Risk Factors of Teenage Suicide

Each year, thousands of American teenagers are diagnosed with clinical depression. If ignored or poorly treated, it can be a devastating illness for adolescents and their families. A new book, Understanding Teenage Depression, provides the latest scientific research on this serious condition and the most up-to-date information on its treatment. Drawing on her many years of experience as a psychiatrist working with teenagers, Dr. Maureen Empfield answers the questions parents and teens have about depression. Maureen Empfield, M.D., is director of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital Center in Mt. Kisco, New York, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen publications for the professional market. Nicholas Bakalar is a New York-based writer and editor.

Although it is almost impossible to predict precisely which teenager will attempt suicide, there are warning signs that parents can look for. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has assembled this list of indications. If one or more of these signs occur, parents should talk to their teenager and seek professional help.

  • Unusual changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
  • Excessive drug and alcohol abuse
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Marked personality change
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Not tolerating praise or rewards
  • Complaints of feeling “rotten inside”
  • Giving verbal hints such as “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” or “I won’t be a problem for you much longer”
  • Putting his or her affairs in order by giving or throwing away favorite possessions or belongings
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after an episode of depression

In high-risk patients—that is patients who have threatened or attempted suicide—there are four risk factors that account for more than 80% of the risk for suicide: major depression, bipolar disorder, a lack of previous mental health treatment, and the availability of firearms in the home. If these four problems were solved, most suicides would be prevented.
Source: Maureen Empfield, M.D. and Nicholas Bakalar


  • Persons under 25 account for 15% of all suicides.
  • Between 1952 and 1995, the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled.
  • Many who make suicide attempts never seek professional care immediately after the attempt.
  • Suicide was the eighth leading cause of death of all Americans, the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, behind unintentional injury and homicide.
  • More men than women die by suicide. The gender ratio is 4:1.
  • 73% of all suicide deaths are white males.
    80% of all firearm suicide deaths are white males.
  • Nearly 3 of every 5 suicides were committed with a firearm. Among persons 15-19, firearm-related suicides accounted for 62% of the increase in the overall rate of suicide.
  • The risk for suicide among young people is greatest among young white males although the suicide rates increased most rapidly among young black males.
  • Although suicide among young children is a rare event, the dramatic increase in the rate among persons aged 10-14 underscores the urgent need for intensifying efforts to prevent suicide among persons in this age group..
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease, combined.

Deaths by Suicide and Self-inflicted Injury per 100,000 age 15-24, 1991-1993

Note that religious and social strictures against suicide may result in some underreporting in some nations. i.e., China is believed to represent over 46% of the suicides in the world. And, no information is currently available on Denmark and France.

Ranked by


Ratio M/F
Highest Ratio M/F











Czech Rep


























New Zealand








Russian Fed















Source: WHO, World Health Statistics Annual 1993 and 1994, 1994 and 1995, Center for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; National Institute for Mental Health.


Exposure to Suicide in the Community: Prevalence and Correlates in One U.S. State

Suicide has been identified as a major public health issue. Exposure to suicide (i.e., knowing someone who died by suicide) is far more pervasive than previously considered and might be associated with significant adverse outcomes. As suicide becomes more commonly discussed in the public arena, a compelling need exists to determine who is exposed to suicide and how this exposure affects those left behind. This study estimated the proportion of the population exposed to suicide and delineated factors that predict significant psychiatric and psychosocial morbidity following that exposure.

Results. Forty-eight percent of weighted participants (n=816/1,687) reported lifetime exposure to suicide. Current depression and anxiety symptoms were higher in suicide-exposed than in suicide-unexposed individuals. Suicide-exposed individuals were twice as likely as suicide-unexposed individuals to have diagnosable depression and almost twice as likely to have diagnosable anxiety. Suicide-exposed individuals were more likely than suicide-unexposed individuals to report suicide ideation (9% vs. 5%). Closeness to the decedent increased the odds of depression and anxiety and almost quadrupled the odds of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Conclusion. Exposure to suicide is pervasive and occurs beyond family; as such, it is imperative to identify those with perceived closeness to the decedent. This hidden cohort of suicide-exposed people is at elevated risk for psychopathology and suicidal ideation.

Many Teens at Risk for Suicide Don't Get Help

Receiving psychological or emotional counseling can help teens who are suicidal cope with their problems, but most teens in trouble don't get those services, say researchers from San Francisco, California, and Melbourne, Australia.

Black Male Teen-ager Suicide Rates Increase

The rate of suicide by gun among black male teen-agers nearly quadrupled between 1979 and 1994 before falling off somewhat in the late 1990s, according to a study.

Who Young People Turn to for Help


; my story isn't over

Have you seen anyone with a semicolon tattoo? Here's what it's about.

One small character, one big purpose.

Have you seen anyone with a tattoo of a semi-colon? If not, you may not be looking close enough. They're popping up...everywhere.

That's right: the semicolon. It's a tattoo that has gained popularity in recent years, but unlike other random or mystifying trends, this one has a serious meaning behind it. (And no, it's not just the mark of a really committed grammar nerd.)

This mark represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.

Project Semicolon was born from a social media movement in 2013.

They describe themselves as a "movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire."

But why a semicolon?

"A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life."

Originally created as a day where people were encouraged to draw a semicolon on their bodies and photograph it, it quickly grew into something greater and more permanent. Today, people all over the world are tattooing the mark as a reminder of their struggle, victory, and survival.

I spoke with Jenn Brown and Jeremy Jaramillo of The Semicolon Tattoo Project, an organization inspired by the semicolon movement. Along with some friends, Jenn and Jeremy saw an opportunity to both help the community and reduce the stigma around mental illness.

In 2012, over 43 million Americans dealt with a mental illness . Mental illness is not uncommon, yet there is a stigma around it that prevents a lot of people from talking about it — and that's a barrier to getting help.

More conversations that lead to less stigma? Yes please.

"[The tattoo] is a conversation starter," explains Jenn. "People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose."

"I think if you see someone's tattoo that you're interested in, that's fair game to start a conversation with someone you don't know," adds Jeremy. "It provides a great opportunity to talk. Tattoos are interesting — marks we put on our bodies that are important to us."

Last year, The Semicolon Tattoo Project held an event at several tattoo shops where people could get a semicolon tattoo for a flat rate. "That money was a fundraiser for our crisis center," said Jenn. In total, over 400 people received semicolon tattoos in one day. Even better, what began as a local event has spread far and wide, and people all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos.

And it's not just about the conversation — it's about providing tangible support and help too.

Jenn and Jeremy work with the Agora Crisis Center. Founded in 1970, it's one of the oldest crisis centers in the country. Through The Semicolon Tattoo Project, they've been able to connect even more people with the help they need during times of crisis. (If you need someone to talk to, scroll to the end of the article for the center's contact information.)

So next time you see this small punctuation tattoo, remember the words of Upworthy writer Parker Molloy:

"I recently decided to get a semicolon tattoo. Not because it's trendy (though, it certainly seems to be at the moment), but because it's a reminder of the things I've overcome in my life. I've dealt with anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria for the better part of my life, and at times, that led me down a path that included self-harm and suicide attempts.

But here I am, years later, finally fitting the pieces of my life together in a way I never thought they could before. The semicolon (and the message that goes along with it) is a reminder that I've faced dark times, but I'm still here."

No matter how we get there, the end result is so important: help and support for more people to also be able to say " I'm still here."
Source: www.upworthy.com/have-you-seen-anyone-with-a-semicolon-tattoo-heres-what-its-about?c=ufb1

*    *    *

We can't tear out a single page from our life,
but we can throw the whole book into the fire. - George Sand

"If you're feeling suicidal this would be an ideal time to try what you always wanted to try
but were afraid to try."

©2017-2023, www.TheCitizensWhoCare.org/teen-suicide.html or https://bit.ly/3xIkOn1