Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24 in the United States? Oklahoma ranks 12th in the nation for the number of youth suicides. A recent study found that 15% of Oklahoma youth surveyed reported having serious suicidal ideation. Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, Comanche, and Canadian Counties have the top five highest suicide rates of all ages and genders in the state. They are followed by Creek, Wagoner, Muskogee, Pottawatomie, and LeFlore counties. (Source: ODMHSAS) In addition, a study by Dube et al (2001) found that youth who experience significant childhood trauma have a massive 5100% greater risk of attempting suicide as a teenager compared to youth who had experienced a stable childhood.
In recognition of Suicide Prevention Week, we urge you to help prevent youth suicide by knowing the warning signs and how to reach out to a youth in crisis.
Warning signs of youth suicide
- Talking about or making plans for suicide
- Cutting, burning, or otherwise harming themselves
- Voicing hopelessness about the future
- Showing severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
- Displaying worrisome behavior or changes in behavior, especially when accompanied with any of the warning signs above. This includes significant withdrawal from or changes in social connections/situations; changes in sleep; anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context; and recent increased agitation or irritability.
Reach out to help
- Ask the youth if they are okay or having thoughts of suicide.
- Tell them you are concerned about the behavior you have seen.
- Listen attentively and non-judgmentally.
- Reflect back what they share and let them know they have been heard.
- Tell them they are not alone and let them know help is available.
- Guide them to professional help.
If you or someone you know needs help now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).