Utah has a preventable problem. Despite focused efforts across the state, suicide remains the leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 17. Primary Children’s Hospital is dedicated to engaging in effective ways to reduce suicides and the lasting effects they have on families, schools and communities.
Our Hold on to Dear Life campaign focuses on ways families can prevent injury. Like wearing a seatbelt or putting on a helmet, there are simple steps parents can take to reduce the risk of suicide.
Families can start reducing risk today by restricting access to highly lethal means, like firearms or medications. Use gun locks or safes to securely store firearms. Store ammunition in a separate and secure location. Dispose of unused medications and secure your current medications to prevent unintentional injury. Often, suicidal crises are brief, so putting time and distance between a person and highly lethal means may save a life.
Families can help kids develop resiliency by nurturing connections to family, school and community. Here are six things you can do:
- Ask, talk and most importantly, listen to how your child is feeling. Have non-judgmental conversations about their feelings and mental health. Help your child feel heard and supported. Help them seek help when they need it.
- Make time for family. Eat family meals together. Create technology-free family time in your home. Play games together. Talk while you ride in the car.
- Get involved in your child’s world. Try something they like or have them teach you something they enjoy doing. Attend a school event. Host their friends at your house. Learn about what matters to them.
- Develop clear expectations and rules in your home. Involve the family in making rules and the consequences for breaking them.
- Model positive coping skills during difficult times. No one is perfect, people make mistakes and sometimes crummy things happen. Help your child learn how to handle life’s challenges in positive ways.
- Know it’s OK to ask for help for your child. No one will judge you or your family for seeking behavioral health services. Talk to your pediatrician, school counselor or mental health professional.
Suicide is preventable. Together, we can reduce risk and build resiliency in our families and our communities.