Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Impacts of Mental Health on Teens

Most people know September as the start of a new school year, the beginning of autumn, or the month of Labor Day, but what most people may not know is that September has been National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (SPAM) since 2008. Suicide is obviously a sensitive, tragic topic, but it impacts millions of people around the world, so prevention awareness is necessary.

According to CDC reports more than 41,000 people die by suicide every year. This makes suicide the tenth leading cause of death among American adults and the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 10-24. The purpose of SPAM is to bring awareness to the people impacted by suicide and mental health, destigmatize the topic of suicide, and provide people with necessary mental health resources. 

As previously stated, the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24 is suicide. This is largely due to the fact that millions of adolescents suffer from mental health disorders. Among children ages 3-17, approximately six million have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 5.8 million have an anxiety disorder, 5.5 million have a diagnosed behavior problem, and 2.7 million have depression. Additionally, many children have more than one mental health disorder. For example, three in four children with depression also had an anxiety disorder. 

Substance abuse is also a prominent mental health issue among children, particularly teens. 2.08 million Americans ages 12-17 have reported using drugs in the last month, and 7.1 million report drinking alcohol in the last month. On average, 4,777 Americans between 15-17 will die of a drug overdose in a single year. In North Carolina alone, 8.14% of teens have used drugs, and 9.15% have consumed alcohol.

The National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) encourages individuals to learn the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. Risk factors include family history of suicide, prolonged history of trauma or abuse, prolonged stress, a recent tragedy or loss, and a chronic mental illness. Warning signs include aggressive behavior, increased alcohol and drug use, impulsive or reckless behavior, mood swings, withdrawal from friends, family, and community, saying goodbye to loved ones, giving away possessions, and collecting pills or buying a gun.

Suicide and mental health disorders impact millions of people all over the world, especially children and teens. If you or someone you know is struggling please use the following 24/7 resources:

  • National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Trevor Project’s Suicide Hotline for LGBTQ+ youth: Call 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678

Sources

CDC on Mental Health 

NAMI SPAM 

NCTSN SPAM

Drug Abuse Statistics 

NAMI Risk Factors and Warning Signs 

Crisis Resources 

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