What you should know about National Suicide Prevention Awareness

09/25/2017 - SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Teen suicide became a pressing topic last year when the graphic tv show "13 Reasons Why" started trending on Netflix.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, and BJ Weller, Canyons School District's Director of Responsive Services, joined Good Morning Utah to give parents some tips about how to help their children if they are experiencing some difficult emotions.

With suicide rates of teenage girls at an all-time high, it is more important than ever for parents to know how to talk to their kids. 

We would encourage parent to watch for behaviors that are different than what they usually see in their kids. Take note if your outgoing, funny and confident teenager suddenly becomes sullen and withdrawn.

Some of the other big "red flags" are dramatic mood swings, aggressive behavior, and impulsive or reckless behavior.  We've found that teenagers who are thinking about harming themselves start writing or talking about death or making comments such as "I wish I wasn't here" or "things would be so much better if I weren't around."  That's what we call suicide ideation, and it is a definite warning sign.
 
Suicide ideation thinking or talking about suicide - and making it seem more glamorous than it really is.  It's why some media about suicide can be so dangerous. It can serve as a trigger for those who are really suffering. 
 
In a perfect world, all teenagers who were struggling would walk up to their parents or a trusted adult and say, "I have been thinking about suicide.  I need some help." That just doesn't happen. But we can see signs if we are paying attention. Teenagers live on social media, and it's on those spaces that teenagers are likely to write things they may not ever say out loud. Some posts may be literal cries for help.  If you see your kid write about feelings of hopelessness or anger, take the time to check in, ask questions, and seek help if you need it. 
 
Teenagers' brains are not fully developed and so they are likely to be more reckless and impulsive. If they are feeling suicidal, those feelings are compounded. Make sure they would not have access to things they could use to harm themselves, whether that be weapons or opioid medications.

Parents and teens can also always reach out to the counseling centers at middle and high schools, and they can seek help from the licensed counselors who take messages from the mobile phone app, SafeUT.       


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