The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health declares the first full week in May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health and emphasizing the importance of family and youth involvement in the children’s mental health movement! In honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Deb Peddycoart, Quality Director with Foundation 2, has written a special edition blog related to children’s mental health and suicide prevention.
The death of any human being by suicide is an especially devastating loss when we think of how that death may have been prevented. When one or more young people take the action to end their lives it impacts their communities and calls people to action. Why did this happen? What must we do as caring parents, teachers, clergy, friends, community leaders and professionals to stop this self directed violence? May 6-12 has been designated Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and we know that attention to the mental and emotional health of young people is a foundation for suicide prevention.
It is tempting to look for single solutions to the problem of suicide, but it is and always has been a complex set of variables that result in a person ending their own life. We may be aware of some specific triggers or events like bullying, loss, academic failure or relationship problems, but all of these things occur without ending in suicide for most youth. We also need to know about underlying vulnerabilities that impact each person. These are often conditions like depression, anxiety, difficulty with impulse control, and the wide variety of consequences due to adverse childhood experiences and trauma.
The goal of suicide prevention has been a significant part of the mission of Foundation 2 for many years. Our 24 hour crisis line, support group for suicide loss survivors, depression disorder support group and 24 hour face to face crisis counseling are all provided by staff who are trained in suicide assessment and intervention.
We strongly encourage anyone concerned about a child or adolescent to learn more about suicide and depression in young people by talking to a staff person at Foundation 2 or contacting your community mental health center. While adults can’t take away some of the painful parts of growing up, there are things we can do to help identify and support vulnerable youth and prevent suicide.