A headline tells us a 19-year-old survivor of Florida’s Parkland school shooting ended her own life.
Headlines, news reports and tweets are shouting out that hate and lack of tolerance are leading to depression, self-harm and death by suicide.
The 2017 statistics bare out that Americans have become less accepting of people who identify as LGBTQ. PTSD is on the rise. The demands on our state universities to support the mental health needs of students is skyrocketing while resources remain limited.
Here in metro Phoenix, we’re seeing an uptick of more hate being leveled at the LGBTQ youth we serve at one n ten, including racial and anti-Semitic slurs. In support of 11-24-year-olds, our organization, one n ten, is redoubling its efforts to give LGBTQ youth the tools they need to be resilient in the face of figuring out who they are and what it means to be LGBTQ.
We’re helping them navigate their personal discoveries while facing often harsh reactions from others, including facing hostile environments at home.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24, and rates of teen depression and anxiety have increased over the last decade. The CDC reports that between 2006 and 2016 the rate of suicide for youth ages 10-17 increased 70 percent. The increase was even higher for black youth and greater still for trans youth.
EMPACT-Suicide Prevention Center (SPC) is partnering with local high schools to educate students, parents and the community about the warning signs of suicide, bust long-held myths and engage in early identification and referral of those youth at risk for being depressed or showing signs of suicide.
Let’s stop whispering about it. Getting youth the help they need quickly is critical.
Our missions, at their core, are about saving lives.
So, we’re asking you to put your phone down, step away from the computer and notice the warning signs. Empathetically reaching out, checking in and getting someone help can make the difference.
We must consider how to build resilient human beings, integrate social and emotional intelligence programs into our schools, as well as teach inclusion and empathy concepts starting as early as middle school. Primary pediatric health care should include mental health support.
We need to invest in enough quality counselors for high school and college campuses that allow for preventive and crisis support. Creating a culture of empathy, belonging and inclusion is an opportunity for a shift to a more sustaining society.
We invite you to join our organizations and other efforts to challenge assumptions, advance policies of inclusion, stand for tolerance in your companies, places of worship, homes and at your schools. Invite in empathy, speak openly, reach out to those in need and dedicate time to let the young people around you know they are not alone. A life could depend on it.
Nate Rhoton is one n ten’s executive director. Information: onenten.org. Sandra McNally is the prevention manager at EMPACT-SPC (empactsos.org). The organization’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline is 480-784-1500.