By Jennifer Rudo
As we head into September and another school year starts, I can feel the excitement and heavy expectations by students, parents, teachers, and administrators. While the usual things – friends, homework, after-school activities, and the like – will be present, so too will fear as we return from COVID to an in-person world.
With this increased fear and uncertainty, there is another reality to face – the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death in teenagers in the United States and one in four young adults have struggled with suicidal thoughts during COVID.
What can we do to support our youth and potentially help prevent suicide?
- Take notice. If we see that there is a change in attitude, behavior, or feelings, then we can start a dialogue. Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will not make them more likely to hurt themselves but it will help reduce their anxiety and stress level.
- Come with an open mind and listen without judgement. If the person is not in immediate danger of hurting themselves, then encourage them to seek help and let them know that you are in this together.
- Follow up by text, phone, Facetime, or in-person. Staying connected is a key, proven protected factor to suicide prevention.
If you or someone that you love needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is open 24 hours a day / 7 days per week at 800-273-8255. To speak with one of our JCS licensed clinicians, please call 410-466-9200.
Jennifer Rudo is a Teen Outreach Specialist at the Ignite Career Center of JCS
JCS is a comprehensive human services organization providing a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.