Suicide Prevention Awareness Month was designed to prompt conversations about suicide and offer people preventive resources for seeking help for themselves and their friends and family members. As the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) says, “suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.”
NAMI statistics on suicidal thinking among teens and young adults are alarming. Thankfully, however, there is a large gap between the number of young people thinking about suicide (about 1 in 10) and the number who die by suicide (1 in 10,000). That means there are many opportunities for us to provide support when it’s needed.
As a long-time advocate of high-quality, accessible mental health care, I often encourage people to deepen their understanding of mental health issues and how they impact overall health and well-being. Recently we sponsored the printing of Irene Buchine’s “Celia and the Little Boy”, the story of a boy trapped in the darkness of depression and the power of connection. It was written with the hope that the book will be a tool to open a dialogue between children struggling with depression and those who care about them. In recognition of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, some of these books were donated to City Year New Hampshire to support its outreach efforts.
Based in Manchester, City Year New Hampshire works to expand access to educational opportunities. City Year AmeriCorps members partner with teachers and schools to add support and help create learning environments where all students can build on their strengths and engage more fully in their learning. City Year used the donated books to talk to students they mentor about potential mental health issues.
To help us become more informed about mental health in general and suicide in particular, NAMI.org provides trustworthy, research-based information, including tools that can be used for talking to children and young adults about these important topics.