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Our Youth Need Our Help – It’s a Matter of Life

By Alex Lama, Commissioner

(June 2, 2020) – As we face the health and economic challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is important to point out that a mental health crisis is devastating young Americans, with an increasing number suffering from depression and death by suicide. Suicides among Americans 10 to 24 years of age have spiked by 56% from 2007 to 2017 per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people with approximately 16 young people taking their life each day. Mental health conditions are major factors leading to youth suicide; however, relationship problems, pressure to achieve, and daily life stressors are also contributing conditions. The American Psychological Association notes that annually one in five teens seriously considers suicide. Warning signs include:

  • A sudden change in behavior
  • Talking or writing about suicide
  • Rage and mood swings
  • Agitated/anxious behavior
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Decline in academic or work performance

We must be as comfortable discussing and seeking professional help for mental illnesses and suicide as we are about physical illnesses. We can help a person who is displaying suicidal behavior by:

  • Encouraging them to seek professional help. Use resources such as a school counselor, social worker or medical provider to point you in the right direction.
  • Dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.8255.
  • Speaking openly about your concerns and letting the person know that you care and want to help.
  • Taking action. If someone is about to harm themselves, immediately dial 911 or go to an emergency room.