Suicide Prevention Council focuses on teen suicide prevention

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — An annual report on suicide prevention in San Diego County is focusing on what can be done to prevent suicides among children and teens.

The Suicide Prevention Council released its annual report on Thursday, which highlights suicide prevention efforts for students from K-12.

Overall, for all age groups, the county’s suicide rate from 2016 to 2017 rose slightly, by 5%. Compared with suicide rates among all age groups, the number of teen deaths is relatively low.

However, educators and mental health professionals at Thursday’s news conference said addressing mental health problems early can prevent suicides later

. Stan Collins who works with the Suicide Prevention Council said school districts across California are actively involved in creating prevention policies so that all school staff can be trained to recognize the signs of someone who may need help.

“A lot of people fear talking about suicide and think talking about it causes it to happen. But there’s a ton of research that shows talking about suicide is the only way we’ll ever prevent it,” Collins said.

Students are also involved in suicide intervention, with training that help to create a positive school climate and connect with others who may need help.

Jade Forero, a junior at Mountain Empire HIgh School was trained in one of the mental health programs. “If you continue to ask and thoroughly say, ‘Are you okay, do you need help?’ – and offer services, they will get better,” Forero said.

A California law passed in 2016 requires all school districts that serve students in grades 7-12 to adopt a comprehensive suicide prevention policy. AB 2246 calls for policies that specifically address the needs of students in high risk groups such as youth with mental illness, substance use disorders, youth in transient home settings such as foster care, and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

Dr. Cheryl Rode, a psychologist at the San Diego Center for Chiildren said parents can also reduce a teen’s risk of suicide by asking questions and having an open dialogue with their children.” I think kids are so open and willing to talk when we give them the right opportunity. I never had a youth decline to talk to me about those thoughts and those feelings. If anything, it’s a relief to them. Our kids have shown us as adults really, how much better it is when we don’t stigmatize and when we’re open and sharing and supportive. That’s what they want and that’s what they need,” Rode said.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Access & Crisis Line at 888-724-7240. The hotline operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Categories: Local San Diego News