September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Because of the widespread stigma around suicide, many people are reluctant to speak openly about it—and it can be really difficult to talk about! But talking about suicide in our community makes it easier to ask for help and get help when we need it—these conversations save lives.
When you look at risk and protective factors of suicide in young people, so many are related to connectedness, whether that’s acceptance with family at home, belonging amongst peers, access to health care services, or a sense of place within our larger community and environment.
In “Teen Suicide Isn’t Just an Individual Problem,” Michael Ungar, Ph.D. considers how social and societal connection (or a lack thereof) influences youth suicide, and the role that parents, educators, town leaders, and community members play in prevention. He asks:
- Does our community make its children feel optimistic about the future?
- Do we as a community provide our children with the tools they need to be successful in life
- Do we as a community make negative judgments on our children because they are different?
- Do we offer our children a way to contribute to their communities in a meaningful way?
How we answer the questions above, and what we do with those answers, can make a huge difference for the health and well-being of our young people. Further, building connectedness in our homes, schools, and communities not only helps to prevent youth suicide, it also protects young people from other health risks, including substance misuse and violence.
- Find resources to give or get help at Facing Suicide VT
- Take a training to boost your suicide awareness and prevention skills with the Center for Health and Learning
If you need support right now, call or text 988 to reach a Lifeline counselor.