By Jackie Rosen, Executive Director/CEO, Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, FISP
Today our children, of all ages, are living in a very stressful volatile world. They are dealing with stress in their homes, their schools, and their social lives. This makes it very important to watch them every day for signs of stress, depression, and suicidal behavior.
Each day at least 17 students from elementary school to college age die by suicide in the U.S.A. according to the 2016 CDC statistics. The youngest reported suicide in Broward County was a seven-year-old boy. This makes SUICIDE the 2nd leading cause of death for our children and the numbers keep growing.
The fear of not being able to meet the requirements and expectations of their parents, their schools, their friends, themselves, and society has become almost impossible to overcome. There are many elements that contribute to these pressures including testing, decision making, college, finances, family issues, trauma, bullying, health, legal problems, social media, and more.
According to the newest research, since 2007, when social media became available to teens, the teen suicide rate doubled. It is widely attributed to the increased isolation that social media causes and the need to keep up with others by showing only their successes. The constant comparisons, immediacy, anonymity, and potential for bullying on social media has a unique potential for causing real harm by decreasing self-worth. As our teens’ primary source of communication, it can become an addiction. Open communication between teens and parents or other persons of trust is now even more urgent for the prevention of teen suicide.
Isolation, produces increased feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and actions. It also decreases the development of interpersonal life skills needed for successful person to person communication. The lack of good person to person communication skills, the absence of empathy, and the uncaring use of social media can lead more teens into depression and suicide. Higher rates of stress produce anxiety and depression. Depression is the #1 cause of suicide.
FISP provides our HOPE Sunshine Clubs after-school program to 48 Broward County Schools. It’s a Broward School Board approved curriculum which gives students a safe place to discuss their problems and help each other. Hope stands for Helping Overcome Problems Effectively.
HOW DO WE PREVENT SUICIDE? LEARNING, LISTENING, AND SHARING! LEARN THE POTENTIAL SIGNS OF SUICIDE AND YOU CAN SAVE A LIFE!
- Behavior changes, taking unnecessary risks, acting-out, anger, euphoria
- Changes in eating and/or in sleep habits; too much or too little
- Trouble concentrating or being indecisive
- Isolation, withdrawal from family, friends or social activities
- Loss of interest in hobbies, work, favorite things
- Unexplained fatigue or apathy
- Crying and loss of ability to know joy
- Loss of sexual drive and lack of interest in personal appearance
- Giving away prized possessions
- Talking about or pre-occupation with death
- Mental illness or previous suicide attempts
- Recent loss or unexpected loss
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, medications, failure to take care of health needs
- Hopelessness, helplessness, desperation, guilt, low self-worth, feeling like a burden to others
- Saying good-bye to family and friends 16. Planning suicide, acquiring a weapon or pills
EVERYONE CAN SAVE A LIFE!
If you see the above symptoms of depression or other brain diseases or disorders, or if a person of any age talks about death, not wanting to be here, suicide, or I can’t take it anymore, TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY! These words can be a clear indication that they are in danger of dying by suicide. Step into intervention mode!
SUICIDE INTERVENTION – HOW DO YOU SAVE A LIFE?
LISTEN to how they feel and what their problems are. Don’t tell them how to feel! Don’t judge! Let them vent! Don’t keep secrets! Get help. Help them make a plan. Call family, school personnel, 911! Don’t do this alone!
Ask The Five Questions
- Are you thinking of injuring yourself?
- Are you thinking about killing yourself or suicide?
- Have you made a plan?
- Do you have what you need to carry out the plan?
- Have you decided when you are going to carry out the plan?
If one answer is YES, to any one of these questions take immediate action! Don’t leave them alone! Get help from their parents, school counselor, principal, doctor, nurse, resource officer, or a therapist.
POSTVENTION – HOW TO HELP A SURVIVOR OF SUICIDE LOSS?
The increases in suicide have resulted in 44,965 people dying by suicide in 2016, compared with 29,199 in 1999. Each person that dies by suicide leaves 18 to 35 people grieving that are now at a higher risk of suicide. To save their lives be there with support and understanding and let them grieve in their own way.
The Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, Inc. is committed to the prevention of suicide by helping to alleviate those factors in society contributing to feelings of alienation, desperation, isolation, helplessness, and hopelessness through Education, Survivor Support, Advocacy, Prevention Program development, and Research. For more information, go to www. sponline.org