Posted with permission from Latin Times

The latest statistics issued from the Center for Disease Control indicate suicide is the second leading cause of death ages 10-24. The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide Professional Counselor, Phyllis Alongi, says early suicide prevention education, known as upstream prevention "is necessary."

"Schools need to be receptive to implementing programs and encourage parents to gain awareness and education to feel confident talking to their teen loved ones about suicide," says Alongi to Latin Times.

According to the Clinical Consultant, teen suicide prevention is a conversation adults must be having with their teens. The mission of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide is to reduce the number of youth suicides and attempted suicides by encouraging public awareness through the development and promotion of educational training programs.

The CDC informed that females attempt suicide three times more often than males. As with suicide deaths, rates of attempted suicide vary considerably among demographic groups. While males are 4 times more likely than females to die by suicide, females attempt suicide 3 times as often as males. The ratio of suicide attempts to suicide death in youth is estimated to be about 25:1, compared to about 4:1 in the elderly.

There were 44,193 suicides in 2015 in the United States - a rate of 13.3 per 100,000 is equal to 121 suicides each day or one every 12 minutes. The highest U.S. suicide rate (15.1) was among Whites and the second highest rate (12.6) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (Figure 5). Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Hispanics (5.8), Asians and Pacific Islanders (6.4), and Blacks (5.6). 

If you are concerned that someone you know may be at risk for suicide, your first step in helping them may be as simple as learning the warning signs. Specialist Phyllis Alongi, says the following signs may mean that a youth is at risk for suicide, especially if that person attempted suicide in the past.

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide utilizes the acronym FACTS (Feelings, Actions, Changes, Threats and Situations) as a way to easily remember the warning signs. 

  1. - Feelings-Expressing hopelessness about the future
  2. -Actions-Displaying severe/overwhelming pain or distress
  3. -Changes-Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, including: withdrawal from friends or changes in social activity; anger and hostility; or changes in sleep.
  4. -Threats-Talking about, writing about, or making plans for suicide.
  5. -Situations-Experiencing stressful situations including those that involve loss, change, create personal humiliation, or involve getting into trouble at home, in school or with the law.
  • These kinds of situations can serve as triggers for suicide. If you notice any of these warning signs,

-Express concern about what you are observing in their behavior.

-Ask directly about suicide

-Encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

-Involve an adult they trust

-If you have any IMMEDIATE concern about someone’s safety, call 911!

Alongi also added that a person who is struggling will need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist or other trained, mental health professional who is knowledgeable and will make appropriate referrals for level of care and ongoing treatment.

If you still have more questions, SPTS recommend Not My Kid: What Every Parent Should Know.  This video includes the most frequently asked questions parents have about teen suicide. Learning about the warning signs, risk factors, protective factors, etc. will help parents/adults open up this kind dialogue with their adolescent loved ones and cultivate the trusted adult relationship.

Phyllis Alongi, MS, NCC, LPC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has numerous years of counseling experience with children, adolescents and adults in both Partial Care and Intensive outpatient settings. Phyllis is in private practice in Brielle, NJ. and is proud to share in the vision of such a meaningful and dynamic organization.