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New CDC Resource Can Help States and Communities Prevent Suicide Among Youth

Sep 14, 2017|By: Deb Stone, Sc.D., M.S.W., M.P.H., CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and Melissa C. Mercado-Crespo, PhD, MSc, MA,, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and StopBullying.gov Ed Board member
Posted In: Prevention
Tagged: Health Research

Suicide and bullying are public health problems that affect youth.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24 in 2015. While most youth who are involved in bullying do not engage in suicide-related behaviors, those who have been bullied or who bully others are more likely to report suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Both bullying others and being bullied are linked to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness –feelings that increase a young person’s risk of suicide.

CDC’s new resource, Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices - PDF, highlights seven science-based strategies that states and communities can use to prevent suicide by:

  • Strengthening economic supports
  • Strengthening access to and delivery of suicide care
  • Creating protective environments
  • Promoting connectedness
  • Teaching coping and problem-solving skills
  • Identifying and supporting people at risk
  • Lessening harms and preventing future risk

Some of the strategies focus directly on youth, such as promoting connectedness and social interactions that encourage youth to seek help and confide in trusted adults, and teaching coping and problem-solving skills that can help youth tackle everyday challenges with peers, school, and other common sources of stress.

Other strategies focus on adults who work with youth, such as training teachers and coaches to identify and support youth who may be at risk of suicide and helping to lessen and prevent future risk (e.g. suicide contagion/”copy-cat” suicides) after a suicide has taken place.

Evidence shows the use of multiple strategies is likely to have the greatest impact on suicide prevention.

CDC resource based on best available evidence

CDC’s suicide prevention technical package is based on the best available evidence to prevent or reduce public health problems like suicide. It is meant as a resource to guide decision-making in communities and states. It has three parts:

  • The strategy lays out the direction or actions to achieve the goal of preventing violence
  • The approach includes the specific ways to advance the strategy
  • The evidence is included for each of the approaches to prevent violence or associated risk factors

What can you do to help prevent youth suicide?

The CDC strategies are designed to help schools, communities, public health officials, and other stakeholders work together to prevent suicide.

If you are already working to do this, the technical package can help you find areas where you can expand your activities. If you haven’t yet begun suicide prevention, it can help you plan and prioritize activities.

We have a responsibility to our youth and communities to promote healthy and safe development for young people. We hope the strategies in the suicide prevention technical package will help you get started today.

For more information on suicide prevention at CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/index.html.

And remember, if you or anyone you know is thinking about suicide or needs support, help is always available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-HELP (8255) or visit http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week takes place from Sept. 11-17.

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