Awareness is key in preventing youth suicide

September 21, 2018

Youth represent Ohio’s future. While school age children and young adults are learning about and experiencing life, various factors, such as, mental health conditions, environmental stress, substance misuse and a history of trauma, may lead them to lose hope and take actions to end their lives.

By taking the time to review this important information, you can help save a young life and reverse the troubling trend we are seeing with youth suicide in Ohio. Awareness is key.

• Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those ages 10-24.

• In Ohio, rates of suicide have climbed 36% from 1999-2016.

• In a year’s time, approximately one in 15 high school students reports attempting suicide; one in 53 reports making a suicide attempt serious enough to require medical treatment.

• Suicide completion is more common among white males and those living in urban areas.

• The most common method of completion for males is firearms and for females is hanging/suffocation.

• The majority of those in this age group who complete suicide have identified mental health issues, though most are not in active treatment.

Please take a moment to learn the warning signs of suicide:

• A significant change in mood or behavior — appearing consistently unhappy/depressed, irritable, withdrawn from family/friends/activities.

• Poor performance in school or other important extra-curricular activities.

• Involvement in high-risk behaviors, including use of alcohol or other substances.

• Problems with concentration, and changes in energy level, appetite or sleep schedule.

• Direct statements about feeling hopeless, not wanting to live anymore.

• Self-injurious actions (e.g., wrist-cutting, burning self).

• History of depression or family history of depression.

However, suicide is preventable! Your actions can save the lives of a young person showing these warning signs.

• Ask directly about thoughts of suicide. (Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide but does open up conversation.)

• Listen to what they need.

• Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means (e.g., firearms, pills). Call 911 if necessary.

• Help them connect with ongoing support, such as a local crisis line, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line (text “4hope” to 741 741).

• Check back the next day to see how they’re doing.

• Encourage the young person to engage with a counseloi to assist with the development of coping skills, problem solving and conflict resolution.

How you can prevent suicide

• OhioMHAS, in partnership with agencies and organizations throughout the state, has developed a comprehensive plan to prevent suicide in Ohio. This can be viewed at: http://mha.ohio.gov/Prevention/Suicide-Prevention/Ohios-Suicide-Prevention-Plan

• Feel free to display materials or connect the young people you serve to Ohio’s youth-focused suicide prevention campaign — Be Present. For more information visit:


• Questions? Contact Dr. Justin Trevino, OhioMHAS Medical Director, at Justin.tre-vino@mha.ohio.gov or Kathy Coate-Ortiz, Chief of Mental Health Services, at Kathleen. coate-ortiz@mha.ohio.gov.

Dr. Justin Trevino Is the medical director at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Update hourly