Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Youth Suicide Numbers Increasing

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is hoping to raise awareness and support for Youth Suicide Prevention during National Suicide Prevention Month in September.

The OSDH reports youth suicide numbers continue to rise in Oklahoma. Between 2005 and 2014, youth suicide deaths from 10 to 24 years of age have increased by 31 percent, with an average of 85 youth dying each year by suicide. In 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death among Oklahomans 10 to 34 years of age. According to a report released by the OSDH, more than 450 youth ages 10 to 24 died as a result of suicide from 2010 to 2014.

The suicide rate among Oklahoma youth was 41 percent higher than the U.S. rate; both the U.S. and Oklahoma youth suicide rates have been on the increase since 2007. Mental health problems along with depressed mood and intimate partner problems were found to be the leading circumstances associated with youth suicides.

Warning signs a person may be considering suicide: 
Talks about suicide 
Has trouble eating or sleeping 
Drastic changes in behavior 
Withdraws from friends and social activities 
Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc. 
Makes out a will and final arrangements 
Gives away prized possessions 
Has attempted suicide in the past 
Takes unnecessary risks 
Has had recent severe losses 
Is preoccupied with death and dying 
Loses interest in their personal appearance 
Increases the use of alcohol or drugs 

What to do: 
Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. 
Be willing to listen, allow expressions of feelings and accept the feelings. 
Be non-judgmental and don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong. 
Get involved, become available and show interest and support. 
Get support and don’t be sworn to secrecy. 
Offer hope that alternatives are available. 
Remove lethal means such as guns or stockpiled pills. 
Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. 

To access the report on youth suicides and other statistics, visit the Oklahoma Violent Death Reporting System web page

For more information on suicide prevention, visit the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services prevention website or the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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