Dr. Dan Reidenberg
(9/10/15 – Minneapolis) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth 15-24 years of age and the 3rd leading cause for 10-14 year olds in the United States. Much needed attention has been given to developing suicide awareness and prevention programs for youth, in particular through the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention grant program, an initiative supported by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), however a solid understanding and agreement on the warning signs for youth suicide has never been accomplished.
To address this gap in knowledge, a panel of national and international experts convened to resolve this problem and help the public better understand the way youth think, feel, and behave prior to making life-threatening suicide attempts and inform them about how to effectively respond. The main goal was to determine what changes immediately preceded suicide attempts or deaths that are supported by research and rooted in clinical practice by experts and for the first time we can now confidently put forward that these are the warning signs that a young person might be at risk of suicide.
The newly agreed upon list of warning signs and additional resources for how to respond to recognized risk was released today and can be found at: www.youthsuicidewarningsigns.org.
- Talking about or making plans for suicide.
- Expressing hopelessness about the future.
- Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
- Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
- Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
- Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
- Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
- Recent increased agitation or irritability
Prior to the meeting, the experts reviewed and analyzed all available literature and conducted a survey of youth suicide attempt survivors, as well as those who lost a youth to suicide. The panel was then convened and consisted of researchers with extensive experience working with suicidal youth, public health officials, clinicians with decades of individual experience helping suicidal youth, school teachers, and various other stakeholders including individuals representing national organizations focused on suicide prevention. Following the consensus meeting, focus groups with youth and adults were held to gain their input on the findings and dissemination plans. The following organizations were involved.
American Association of Suicidology
Duke University Medical Center
George Mason University
Indian Health Service
National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide
National Institute of Mental Health
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
The Trevor Project
Thomas Jefferson University
University of British Columbia
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Denver Veterans Administration
University of Michigan
University of Tel Aviv, Israel
Weill Cornell Medical College