By Lauren Balkan, Deputy Director
September was National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall, and the 2nd leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults ages 10-34. Rates of suicide have been on the rise for years. From 2000 to 2018, the rate has increased by 35%. Although NJ has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country, one person dies by suicide every 11 hours. The pandemic has also increased the risk of suicide due to social isolation, increased anxiety, and many other factors. Now, more than ever, it is important for people to raise awareness about suicide. Most suicides are preventable and knowing the warning signs, risk factors, ways to help, and protective factors are part of suicide prevention. The World Health Organization release a campaign this year called Take 5 to Stay Alive. According to WHO, more people worldwide die by suicide than by war and murder combined. By taking just five minutes to get involved everyone can be part of the solution.
School-based clinical services in Carteret, through The Path elementary and middle school and Pathways SBYSP at the high school, have been working to increase awareness and educate students during this month in several different ways. All of the programs participated in Start with Hello, a campaign started by the Sandy Hook Promise which aims to end social isolation and teach empathy in youth. At Carteret High School, students participated in social bingo, winning a prize for filling up their bingo cards that were full of questions and activities that connected them to their peers. The high school students also participated in a cafeteria event called Be the One, writing posts on how they can be a support to others – see image. At CMS students were encouraged to connect with new peers during lunch with conversation starters and fun “would you rather questions” led by The Path staff at each table. Middle School staff will also be working with teachers to lead Signs of Suicide lessons in health classes in October. The elementary school clinicians created a campaign called Be a Friend, Reach Out with a video and corresponding activities that were shared school-wide. Informational posts on Instagram for all the programs informed students of warning signs and actions they can take to help a friend.
In our program in South Plainfield, the clinician shared resources for our virtual calm room and presented to parents during the back-to-school night on the difficult transition for youth this year, the importance of recognizing the signs of depression in our children, and reaching out for support when needed.
Wellspring’s School-Based Clinical Services reinforces the importance of connection and support on a daily basis, providing a resource for students in Carteret School District, South Plainfield High School, and soon, Metuchen High School offering mental health counseling, prevention programming, and a safe space for students to get the help they need.
For resources and information on suicide prevention, visit our Linktree.