Together for Mental Health
September is Suicide Prevention Month
After the last two years of pandemic living, economic uncertainty and tragic national events like mass shootings, stress and uncertainty have taken their toll on many people’s well-being. Sobering statistics state that suicides increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Suicide is also the leading cause of death among school age youth. This alarming raise in suicides makes Suicide Prevention Month even more needed.
Every September, mental health advocate groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Trevor Project share knowledge about suicide prevention to reduce the risk of suicide for Suicide Prevention Month.
Increased suicides are not just a national phenomenon—suicide directly affects youth in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In Ventura County, approximately 73 ER visits per 10,000 youth in the county are related to adolescent suicide and intentional self-inflicted injury, with young women entering the ER at a higher rate than young men.
Santa Barbara County’s suicide statistics, according to Youthwell, a Santa Barbara-based organization that seeks to educate, support, and prevent teen suicide prevention, is grim. “Santa Barbara County is ranked 18th out of 58 counties in California for high suicide rates,” says Youthwell. And “suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24.”
What can we do?
Thanks to growing awareness and resources, suicide prevention efforts are becoming more common and effective.
Misconceptions about suicide unfortunately persist. Suicide is not a personal failure but a human response to difficult environmental factors that include abuse, drug or alcohol use, bullying, emotional pain and untreated mental illness.
As a community we can make the changes we need to give our suffering youth the treatment they deserve.
- HEALTHCARE: By recognizing the signs of mental healthcare challenges, parents and guardians can seek appropriate care for their child or teen to reduce the risk of suicide. Seeking help early with a qualified professional will help suffering youths get medication, therapy, and other tools to manage their mental health.
- STIGMA: Being open about mental illness can help to end the stigma. Many families may adhere to racial, cultural, or personal beliefs that stigmatize those suffering with mental illness. Stigma can shame suffering youths and cause them to hold in their emotions, increase distrust in loved ones, and reduce their chances of asking for help.
- RELATIONSHIPS: Building relationships with your child or teen is critical to spotting issues that need immediate attention. Listening to your child or teen instead of judging, criticizing, or dismissing symptoms can strengthen trust and encourage your child to ask for help when needed.
Where to Get Support
Thankfully, there are many organizations available in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to help struggling children and youth. Casa Pacifica’s SAFTY program takes calls daily to help youth who reside in Santa Barbara county and are in crisis. Available from 8 a.m to 8 p.m., SAFTY provides quick, accessible, and specialized crisis intervention services. SAFTY has the ability to follow up with in-home support and other appropriate services to make sure the youth continues to receive the care they need. Parents and guardians in Santa Barbara county can also utilize resources provided by YouthWell to learn more about support groups, parenting classes, therapists, community activities and more.
For families living in Ventura county, Camino a Casa’s program is an effective and helpful resource. Camino a Casa provides services designed to help treat youths aged 9-17 suffering from depression, bipolar, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, and self-harm behaviors—all of which can exist with or contribute to suicide ideation. Camino a Casa also specializes in Gender Expansive Services to treat youth who identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ have an increased risk of suicide ideation. According to the Trevor Project, “The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.”
With a focus on a relationship-based approach to supporting and serving our young people and their families, Camino a Casa helps guide families to create the tools they need to support their youth in their time of need.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, here are some important numbers you can use to get help.
Casa Pacifica SAFTY Hotline (for Santa Barbara County): (888) 334-2777
Crisis Text Line: 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988