September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Youth First, Inc. is working to share information and educate teens and others about suicide prevention.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among persons 15 to 24 years old. More Americans die by suicide every year than by homicide, with a suicide occurring every 12.8 minutes.

Youth First is working in our schools to teach students and faculty to spot and report suicide warning signs.

In the 2015-2016 school year, Youth First’s Master’s level, highly trained and supervised social workers performed 328 suicide assessments in the 59 schools and six counties they served.

Students are taught to look for suicide warning signs as part of Youth First’s Teen Series presented to high school freshmen.

The training — Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) — is also sometimes presented as a one-hour workshop to school faculty or community groups.

QPR is a proven program, training participants to provide an emergency response to someone in crisis.

It helps students get comfortable with the topic of suicide, ask questions if they think someone might be suicidal, and then tell a responsible adult.

Youth First also trains community members in Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour course taught nationwide that equips participants to identify, understand and respond to signs of suicide, mental illness and substance use disorders.

The HOPE team, a local group of first responders, provides support to the family and survivors of a person who has committed suicide.

The HOPE team is primarily comprised of mental health and law enforcement professionals, including Youth First staff.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists the following warning signs for suicide:

1. If a person talks about:

•being a burden to others,

•feeling trapped,

•experiencing unbearable pain,

•having no reason to live or

•killing themselves.

2. Specific behavior to look for:

•increased use of alcohol or drugs;

•looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means;

•acting recklessly;

•withdrawing from activities;

•isolating from family and friends;

•sleeping too much or too little;

•visiting or calling people to say goodbye;

•giving away prized possessions; or

•aggression.

3. People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

•depression,

•loss of interest,

•rage,

•irritability,

•humiliation or

•anxiety.

4. Suicide risk factors (characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life):

Health factors:

•depression,

•bipolar disorder,

•schizophrenia,

•borderline or antisocial personality disorder,

•conduct disorder,

•psychotic disorders or psychotic symptoms,

•anxiety disorders,

•substance abuse disorders or

•serious or chronic health conditions and/or pain.

Environmental factors:

•stressful life events which may include death, divorce, or job loss;

•prolonged stress factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems and unemployment;

•access to lethal means, including firearms and drugs; or

•exposure to another person’s suicide or graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide.

Historical factors:

•previous suicide attempts or

•family history of suicide.

Where to go for help:

•Youth First Social Workers in your school – see a list at youthfirstinc.org;

•24-hour hotlines:

•Southwestern Healthcare Suicide Hotline – 812-422-1100

•Deaconess Crosspointe – 812-476-7200 or 800-947-6789

•Brentwood Meadows – 812-858-7200

•National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 800-473-TALK (8255)

•Crisis Text Line – Text “GO” to 741741 – response by trained volunteers, not professionals

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