How to Help Prevent Teen Suicides this Holiday Season

Dec 22, 2021


Suggestions for how to fight the current crisis of increasing teen suicides, as well as tips for reaching out and helping your loved ones that are struggling. You don't have to face this alone.

Mental health is a challenging issue in general, but even more so around the holidays. Add to that the ongoing pandemic we’re facing and we have what U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy calls “a dual crisis.” According to Dr. Murthy, “The pandemic era’s unfathomable number of deaths, pervasive sense of fear, economic instability, and forced physical distancing from loved ones, friends, and communities have exacerbated the unprecedented stresses young people already faced. It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place.”  

Dr. Murthy also mentions that even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth were struggling with mental health challenges. Before the pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with as many as 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, the National Center for Health Statistics states that between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among youth ages 10-24 in the U.S. increased by 57%, and early estimates show more than 6,600 deaths by suicide among this age group in 2020. Dr. Murthy has spotlighted the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis, as the future well-being of the country will depend on how the nation supports and invests in the rising generation. But many people wonder what they can do to help. Listed here are some recommendations for families, educators, media and technology companies:  

  • Recognizing that mental health is an essential part of overall health
  • Empowering youth and their families to recognize, manage and learn from difficult emotions.
  • Ensuring that every child has access to high-quality, affordable and culturally competent mental health care.
  • Supporting the mental health of children and youth in educational, community and childcare settings.
  • Addressing the economic and social barriers that contribute to poor mental health for young people, families and caregivers.

These recommendations are, of course, given in more general terms and on a larger scale. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health and suicidal ideation, here are some suggestions to help on a more personal level:

  • Just ask: Are you suicidal? If you are concerned about your friend or loved one, asking this honest question can help them open up and share what’s really going on.
  • Listen with love: Make sure to stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention, and to listen without jumping straight into problem-solving. They need to be heard.
  • Don’t judge their symptoms: Suicidal ideation is a symptom of Major Depressive Disorder, and can be difficult to understand for those that have not experienced it.
  • Validate their struggle: You do not need to “fix” your loved one. You just need to help them feel understood. Repeat what they’ve shared with phrases like “So you’re feeling…”
  • Stay away from shame and blame: If their feelings start triggering shame or blame, you might need to walk away and give it some space. Shame and blame never help, and could make it worse.
  • Suggest help and medical options: After you have listened, ask if they are open to discussing options for getting professional help. They might have tried some things, but there are still other options.
  • Show them there is hope: Just knowing there are more options available could help give them hope. Modern science has given us multiple medical treatments that can help, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), medication management, and ketamine infusions.

There is a great need in addressing the mental health crises that youth face today, but there is hope and healing ahead. We just need to be aware and act to help those in need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with severe depression, then it's time to schedule an appointment with one of the medical professionals at Serenity Mental Health Centers to get the much-needed care that you deserve.

Call us at 844-692-4100 to talk with one of our incredible patient care coordinators that are standing by to help you get on the right track to TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE!


“Let’s Fight Teen Suicide” Initiative to Help Low-income Teens in Need

Recently Ben and Tricia Pease, founders and Chief Executives at Serenity, were deeply concerned by a recent suicide attempt of their daughter's teenage friend, which reinforced the urgency to get care to those that need it. Out of that tragedy was born the idea to start a special fund this holiday season to help teenagers in need whose families can’t afford treatment. This holiday season, Serenity will be covering ketamine infusion therapy* ($2,400 value) for suicidal teenagers in need so that they can spend the holidays celebrating instead of struggling. (*Must be indicated and prescribed, and patient must fall within the qualifying age parameters.)

Learn more at letsfightteensuicide.com