Suicide prevention awareness crucial

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

For six months, I have been thinking of writing this. In August, a very close friend of mine attempted to take his life. He survived, but the fact still remains that he attempted suicide. Now in recent news, suicide in youth has come to the spotlight once more.

Suicide in youth is a major issue that really isn’t being addressed as much as it should be. Here’s a statistic to mull over: 1 in 64,000 deaths in youth aged 10-14 are from suicide. That is just 10-14 year olds, kids so young that they have their entire lives ahead of them, and they haven’t even started high school.

To put it in the bigger picture, suicide is the second-leading cause of death of persons aged 10-24. More youth die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.

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Four of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs of suicidal behavior. But why are all these statistics necessary? Why must we have such startling statistics about youth suicide?

Ask yourself a question. Only who can prevent forest fires? That’s right, you. You know that because of Smokey Bear telling you that on TV commercials.

Now ask yourself this: What is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number?

If you had to look it up, then you have proven my point. There is little-to-nothing done to promote suicide prevention, especially among youth and high schoolers in the United States. In my 17 years of life, in all four years I have been in high school, I have seen maybe one thing on suicide prevention and it came in the wake of a close friend and schoolmate who attempted suicide the week before.

This is clearly an issue that much is obvious, but it is outrageous that it isn’t being addressed until it is too late for the ones who need it the most. All lives matter, and any unnecessary loss of life demands answer and reason.

Many times, the phrase “I’m going to kill myself” is used in everyday conversation as a joke. But what about the one person who actually means it? What about the one who shows the signs of suicidal behavior but nobody helps?

We don’t have any resources given to us to help our friends. There is no education on suicide prevention. There is no ready-made speed dial like 911 for people to call to prevent suicide. Only a 1-800 number and the hope that they know it.

In the time it has taken me to prepare this argument, more than 800 people have committed suicide. There is no more time to wait. It’s time for the public to realize that nothing is being done. Suicide can be avoided easily. But it would be so much simpler if they were more educated on suicide prevention. When thinking of suicide, it’s almost the last thought to have to look up the suicide lifeline number. And when we can remember Smokey Bear like our own name, it’s sad that a lifesaving number requires a Google search to find out.

I now call on the public, on high schools and high schoolers, on government and its citizens, on anyone with a heart: Do something. Do something to change this, and promote suicide prevention, and ways to help. Show that people do care. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Human life is a sacred gift and it deserves more respect than it gets.

Recognize the signs, talk to people, make posters to try to promote suicide prevention, get the suicide lifeline number posted for anyone to see. All it takes is just a simple poster to let people see that there are other options, that people are there for anyone to talk to and that professional help can save their life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK. Write that down. Commit it to memory. Maybe that alone will save a life.


Elijah Lutz