The Most Devastating Mental Health Issue Facing Our Youth
Each September our nation acknowledges the devastating mental health crisis facing America, suicide, and works to raise awareness about warning signs and prevention strategies. Unfortunately, for our nation’s youth, the numbers are not heading in the right direction. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24. And more teenagers die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, influenza, lung disease, stroke, pneumonia, and birth defects combined. For example, youth suicide research from Oregon Health and Science University has shown that suicide attempts have increased five-fold in kids ages 10-12 between 2010 and 2020. To add to this tragedy, the pandemic has worsened this issue. A 2021 CDC report showed that hospital admissions for teenage girls who may have attempted suicide increased by 50% nationwide.
Educators are at the forefront of this crisis. BASE Education was founded with the goal of identifying students in crisis and helping them get the support they need at the moment. Here are the risk factors you need to know and preventative measures you can take.
Suicide Risk Factors:
Not everyone is at equal risk for death by suicide. Risk factors (as defined by the suicide prevention resource center) are characteristics that make it more likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. As one would expect, the more risk factors individuals have, the higher their statistical risk of death by suicide.
Depression, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse
Mental health and addictive disorders account for around 90% of suicides, making them the most telling risk factor.
Aggression and Fighting
According to recent research, interpersonal violence is connected to suicide regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Lack of stability at home can increase the risk of suicide.
Youth that grows up without meaningful connections with adults, or who are exposed to community violence, are at serious risk for self-destructive behavior.
Bullying, a lack of connection to teachers, struggling with classes, and negative experiences with peer relationships could make an individual more vulnerable to suicide risk.
Kids who have attempted suicide are eight times more likely to make another suicide attempt compared to kids who have never attempted suicide.
Feelings of isolation, and victimization can increase the stress level and risk for suicide in individuals.
Stress stemming from death in the family, divorce, remarriage, moving to a new city, and financial stability can increase risk. Also, a history of suicide among immediate family members can increase the risk in individuals.
Some behaviors that are becoming more common and increase the risk of suicide are head banging, cutting, burning, biting, erasing, and digging at wounds.
The good news is that protective factors can significantly reduce risk. These individual and environmental characteristics make it less likely for a student to attempt, consider, or die from suicide.
Individual Protective factors
- Effective coping and problem-solving skills
- Strong sense of cultural identity
- Reasons for living
Relationship Protective Factors
- Support from family and friends
- Feeling connected to others
Community Protective Factors
- Feeling connected to school, community, and other social institutions
- Availability of consistent and high-quality physical and behavioral healthcare
Societal Protective Factors
- Reduced access to lethal means
- Cultural, religious, and moral objections to suicide
BASE Education Can Help
As devastating as this crisis is, there is hope. BASE Education was founded to support students in crisis and prevent suicide. Our Suicide Education and Prevention modules teach students about depression, facts about suicide, risk factors, protective factors, and proper intervention strategies.
Through our proprietary Firewords technology, educators around the country have uncovered at-risk students who displayed no observable signs of the potential to harm themselves. In the words of Mike Freeman, Associate Superintendent of Instructional Services, from the Shasta County Office of Education:
“We had 300 fireword notifications. Think about that, that’s 300 times a kid, a user of BASE, indicates that something is not right, and they’re struggling. That’s 300 red flags that have landed in a counselor’s, teacher’s, admin’s inbox, and they’re able to pull that kid in to have a meaningful conversation.”
Watch the full webinar recording with Mike Freeman
To learn more about how BASE Education can help you create a protective environment for your students, contact us today.
*If you or anyone you know are having suicidal thoughts we encourage you to get help.
Contact 911 for emergencies or 988 for the suicide and crisis lifeline.