CINCINNATI (WKRC) – More teenagers in Ohio die from suicide than anything else.
New statistics from the Ohio Department of Health reveal suicide as the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10-14 and the second leading cause in death for ages 15-34.
“Statistics get our attention, and we just know that children are under a lot of stresses today,” said Executive Director of the Southwest Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Heather Smith.
NAMI works in the region to get people help or point them in the right direction if it can’t help directly. Smith says one of the biggest ways to help reverse this trend is actually relatively easy.
“Notice things among our friends, notice things among our family and ask the question and then be quiet and listen,” said Smith.
Is it as simple as just listening? No, but yes. It starts the process in the right direction for anyone struggling, especially young people.
“Early intervention can change the trajectory of a mental health condition,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, they think about how they can just end the pain they’re feeling.”
From social media pressures to bullying to being overwhelmed with school work, Smith says NAMI is now getting involved in schools to help alleviate some of the pressures in a program called “Ending The Silence.”
“This is something for the middle and high school students in the classroom. It teaches warning signs of mental illness and teaches warning sides of suicide,” said Smith.
The state of Ohio’s newest data shows a growing trend of suicides over the last 10 years. There was a 45% increase in suicides, translating to more than 500 lives.
With the exception of 2009 and 2014, each year there were more suicides than the previous.
Smith says people also need to ignore the myth that if you bring up suicide it’s going to drive someone toward it. She believes it’s the exact opposite and that people struggling want to talk about their feelings.
“From survivors, we know they don’t really want to die. They’ve lost hope and they don’t see any other way to tend this pain they are in,” said Smith.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please know that help is available.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or text 4hope or 741-741
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
Visit the National Alliance of Mental Health Issues of Southwest Ohio for more resources.