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Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among school age youth. Here are some of the warning signs of suicide and what you can do to help. This column is brought to you by the KS Health Services Department – Mālama Ola (To Care for Life).

Mālama Ola Minute: Suicide prevention is a kākou effort

Sept. 25, 2019

According to a recent survey, 30% of Hawai‘i high school students reported experiencing chronic sadness over the past year, 16% seriously considered suicide, and 10% attempted suicide. The rates were even higher for middle schoolers.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among school age youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the source of the statistics above. Young people contemplating suicide often show warning signs. Parents, teachers and friends can pick up on these signs and offer help.

Look for the signs
Keep your mind, eyes, ears and heart open to the possibility that thoughts of suicide may be present in your child. Suicide warning signs include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Sadness, hopelessness and irritability
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Loss of energy
  • Making negative comments about themselves
  • Talking, writing or hinting about suicide
  • A sudden change from sadness to being “at peace”
  • Purposefully putting personal affairs in order

How to help a suicidal teen
Following are some recommendations for helping suicidal teens from Mental Health America, a national leader in mental health support, recovery and advocacy:

  • Offer help and listen. Encourage depressed teens to talk about their feelings. Listen, don’t lecture.
  • Trust your instincts. If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek prompt help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life.
  • Pay attention if your child talks about suicide. Ask direct questions and don’t be afraid of frank discussions. Silence can be deadly!
  • Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional who has experience helping depressed teens. Also, alert key adults in the teen’s life – family, friends and teachers.

Crisis support
If you think your child may be suicidal, use the resources below to get free help –
24 hours a day, seven days a week:

Read how KS is cultivating community awareness of suicide and its prevention as part of the Kaua‘i Resilience Project. For a comprehensive list of crisis support resources, see the Mālama Ola Student and ‘Ohana Resources web page. For additional non-crisis help, please contact an on-campus KS behavioral health professional.

Get more health, well-being and safety tips at the Mālama Ola website.

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