In the United States, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 10 to 14-year-olds (CDC, 2015) and for 15 to 19-year-olds (Friedman, 2008). In 2013, 17.0% of students grades 9 to 12 in the United States seriously thought about committing suicide; 13.6% made a suicide plan; 8.0% attempted suicide; and 2.7% attempted suicide in which required medical attention (CDC, 2015). These alarming statistics show that there is something wrong with the way suicide is handled in today’s society. In order to alleviate the devastating consequences of teenage suicide, it is important to get at the root of what causes it all: mental illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (2013), mental illness is the imbalance of thinking, state of mind, and mood. Approximately 90% of all suicides are committed by people with mental illnesses (NAMI, n.d.). This shows that there is a correlation between mental illness and suicide. If mental illnesses are not treated, deadly consequences could occur. It would make sense that if there is a correlation between mental illness and suicide across all ages, the same should be thought for adolescents. Approximately 21% of all teenagers have a treatable mental illness (Friedman, 2008), although 60% do not receive the help that they need (Horowitz, Ballard, & Pao, 2009). If mental illnesses are not found and treated in teenagers, some of them may pay the ultimate price.
(Schilling, E.A. & Aseltine, R.H. & James, A, 2016). High-risk students with a history of suicide attempts were significantly less likely to report planning a suicide. Through this program, students were taught the common signs of depression and learned the importance of getting help for themselves if they felt depressed or suicidal. Students also learned valuable information about how to help someone who is contemplating suicide or exhibiting suicidal behavior. Risk factors for suicidal behavior include previous suicide attempt(s), history of mental disorders- particularly depression, history of alcohol and substance abuse, and family history of suicide” to name a few. (Christoffel, T., & Gallagher, S. S. 2006, p.104).
Suicide is a severe community health matter which can have lifelong negative consequences on individuals, families, and the society. Reduce suicidal risk factors and increase protective measures are the main objective of suicide prevention. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined suicide as the “death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior; suicide attempt is “A non-fatal, self-directed, potentially injurious behavior with an intent to die as a result of the behavior; might not result in injury’; and suicidal ideation is “thinking about, considering, or planning suicide” (2015).
In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 to 14-year-olds (CDC, 2015) and for 15 to 19-year-olds (Friedman, 2008). In 2013, 17.0% of students grades 9 to 12 in the United States seriously thought about committing suicide, 13.6% made a suicide plan, 8.0% attempted suicide, and 2.7% attempted suicide in which required medical attention (CDC, 2015). These alarming statistics show that there is something wrong with the way mental illness is handled in today’s society. Also, approximately 21% of all teenagers have a treatable mental illness (Friedman, 2008), although 60% do not receive the help that they need (Horowitz, Ballard, & Pao, 2009).
With the prevention of mental and physical health difficulties and the advancement of well-being and health, there is emphasis on reducing the breach between mental health needs that are not met among youngsters and teenagers and operational evidence-based services to meet them (Rones and Hoagwood 2000; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1999; U.S. Public Health Service 2000 as cited in Flaspohler, Meehan, Maras, & Keller, 2012). Despite evidence that school viciousness and other main problems among youth may have declined or leveled off, a significant need for effective prevention programming is still necessary. Current data suggests that of “11.3 % of young people in this country, about 7.4 million youth altogether, have at least one diagnosable emotional, behavioral, or developmental condition; 40 % of these youth are diagnosed with two or more of these conditions” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Preventing suicide: A toolkit for high schools. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services. Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA12-4669/SMA12-4669.pdf
In 2004 Congress enacted the Campus Suicide Prevention initiative which provides funds through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services, to college campuses nationwide (Smulson, 2016). The Campus Suicide Prevention initiative supports program activities, mental health screening services, and prevention strategies to form a foundation for mental health promotion, suicide prevention, and substance abuse prevention (Smulson, 2016). While research shows that mental and behavioral health supports can improve student life and functioning, the program falls short in some areas.
In the upcoming school year, we will start our S.P.E.A.K (Spreading Prevention & Empowering All Kids) initiative at local middle schools in the Tuscaloosa City School System. Through the S.P.E.A.K initiative, we will implement the Step-Up Program within the six (6) middle schools. Last school year, 118 students made threats about suicide. The Tuscaloosa City School System recently urged that educators be trained about signs of suicide & how to prevent suicide amongst students. However, educators received training on a program that can only be implemented amongst high school students.
The structure of our program is to work with school sites in order to train a core group of students on how to identify the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. The goal is for the students to ultimately be a link to a trusted adult or resource on campus for a student who may be contemplating suicide. Once students are trained we work with them to create schoolwide campaigns which focus on raising awareness to help resources that are always available when needed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2015, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the adolescent population in this country and the number of occurrences continues to rise at a dramatic rate. For every teen that completes a suicide, 100 make an attempt, making suicide a paramount public health issue that needs to be addressed. Statistics show that since 2009, the rates of attempted and completed suicide, in this age group continue to steadily increase (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2015; Taliaferro, Oberstar, & Wagman-Borowsky, 2012).
“For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, approximately 4600 lives lost each year. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females. The top three methods used in suicides of young people include firearm (45%), suffocation (40%), and poisoning (8%)” (CDC, 2015). The school is not an easy step to take, and a lot of students suffer from anxiety attacks caused by stress and depression. Sadly, these students usually don’t seek help or maybe they just simply don’t know where to go for the help. “The costs of suicidal behaviors and the savings that can result from preventing these behaviors can help convince policymakers and other stakeholders that suicide prevention is an investment that will save dollars as well as lives” (SPRC, 2015).
Teen suicide is a major problem in the United States today. It has effected most people in some sort of way throughout their lives. The facts have shown “Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide”(Suicide Awareness). People need to start taking action so the rate of teen attempting or actually committing suicide goes down. There are many ways of improving this problem.
By creating programs that effectively reduce the number of suicides, costs will decrease, because in “2005, the estimated cost of suicide was more than $34.6 billion arising from 32,637 deaths and including medical costs and inferred lost work” (Caine 1). Thus, suicide is not only a personal problem anymore, but also a drastic national, economic issue, that needs more government attention. Better governmental legislation that provides effective prevention programs in high schools is a logical way to solve this problem, because “the school is a nexus for teen life and, therefore, uniquely poised as a context in which to address teen suicide” (Cooper 696). Furthermore, the government requires and regulates school attendance, so it is only reasonable that the government protects students from harm. However, current governmental legislation and prevention strategies aimed toward high school students have not made the necessary impact to combat rising suicide rates. Even after implementation of The New Freedom Commission, “there have been many suicide prevention programs that have been developed, but very few that show statistically significant effectiveness” (696). For example, “telephone crisis programs and drop-in centers have not reduced the suicide rates; widespread treatment for depression has not lessened suicide. In fact, suicide from tricyclic antidepressant medication has increased in the last few years” (Westermeyer 108). Therefore, these issues call for
Day to day, teens suffer from peer pressure, problem from home, and stress from academics. Despise their status in the environment, majority of high school students refrain from acknowledging the presence of their reality. The problem in most situations in that students feel shut in, trapped in a never ending misery. How do they cope? What are their ways of dealing? Most students live in denial. Others have friends to confide in. For the devastating part, most students are not as open to these ideas and it leaves them with this alternative: suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause in teens the ages 14 to 19 within rural underserved areas. Suicidal ideation (SI), suicidal thoughts, were surveyed in over 12 high schools and it was found that in the past year, thoughts of (SI) were not shared with peers or even adults in the pursuit of receiving help or support (Pisani, 2012). Because a student spends most of their day at school, it is ideal for schools to provide realistic opportunities and school-based programs to assist with the suicide among the youth. The Surviving the Teens Suicide Prevention and Depression Awareness Program designed four 50 minute session or each high school student. This presented information in regards to factual information about depression, suicidal warning signs, suicidal risk factors and myths associated with suicide (King, 2010). The program provide coping strategies for everyday life, referral sources if feeling suicidal, and how to recognize