Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Maine Youth and Suicide Prevention

Maine youth are making healthier choices, including smoking and drinking less, but are increasingly struggling with their emotional wellbeing.

Those findings and other insights directly from tens of thousands of Maine students about their health and habits are detailed in the newly released results of the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS).

The survey, which has been given every odd year since 2009, is a collaboration of the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. The results inform prevention and program planning, as well as future funding proposals.

While students largely feel more supported by parents, teachers and their communities, they also admit they are increasingly struggling with feelings of sadness and hopelessness. At the high school level, 14.6 percent of students said they have seriously considered attempting suicide, and 16.8 percent of seventh and eighth graders said the same. 

In October, Maine was one of six states awarded a 3-year federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration grant, which will expand statewide education, training, and outreach services and offers new screening, assessment, treatment and follow-up services for youth to age 24 at risk for suicide.

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program is collaborative initiative among: the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Corrections, Labor, Public Safety, and Veteran's Affairs; advocacy organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI ME; crisis agencies; parents, survivors and young adults.

Although suicide is a rare event, we must encourage and support our youth and young adults who may be feeling overwhelmed and hopeless to reach out to a trusted adult who will provide support and connect them to helping resources, such as:

  • Statewide Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112 - connects callers to crisis service provider in area from which they are calling. This is for ALL individuals in crisis to provide immediate, local assistance in a crisis situation. The crisis worker will ask what is going on and ask about everyone's safety to help figure out what kind of help is need. If you believe a person might be in danger of suicide, call the statewide crisis hotline or the police (911) to keep the person safe if needed.
  • Statewide Information Resource Center (IRC): 1-800-499-0027 Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services IRC has suicide prevention informational materials for adults and teens including: print and audio/visual educational materials, Maine and national data, etc.

For more information:

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