September was National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall, and the second 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%. The pandemic has also influenced an increase in suicide rates due to social isolation, increased anxiety, and many other factors.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline has reported a 65% increase in calls and emails since March. According to the CDC, over 40% of adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use. 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.
Last month, Pathways worked to increase awareness and educate students in several different ways. Informational posts on Instagram informed students of warning signs and actions they can take to help a friend. Pathways also hosted an event on Zoom where students participated in an interactive trivia game to learn some of the facts about suicide prevention. Students had fun trying to get the right answer and win a prize. Pathways held an event in the high school parking lot where students could come and create posters while safely socially distant. The students were so happy to come together, see each other and engage in a fun healthy activity. The posters had messages of positivity, self-care, and mental health awareness.
In addition, a suicide awareness presentation was created for teachers to utilize during their social emotional learning lessons. This presentation was shared with the entire student population. Finally, a letter was sent to all district families identifying the importance of suicide awareness, some thoughts on how to support children and promote positive mental health during this difficult time and resources if a parent has concerns about their child.
For resources and information on suicide prevention: https://linktr.ee/PathwaysSuicidePrevention