Suicide is a concerning issue in the United States, especially among youths. In Illinois, it is the third-leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 19. With the school year in full swing, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is offering tips to teachers, parents, and caregivers to help prevent suicide attempts.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 186 youths and young adults died by suicide in 2022, with more than 9% of these deaths resulting from intentional self-poisonings. A study conducted in 2023 by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control found that the rate of suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among individuals aged 10 to 19 increased by 30% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic rates in 2019. Specifically, there was a 73% increase in suicide attempts among children aged 10 to 12.
Middle school and the first two years of high school showed the largest increases in reported suicide attempts. Studies have also shown that suicide attempts in children and teenagers tend to increase during the school months of September to May. Academic pressure, peer pressure, bullying, and other factors related to school can contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety in young individuals.
To address this growing problem, IPC recommends taking all threats of suicide seriously. Warning signs may include sadness, anxiety, lack of energy or motivation, temper outbursts, withdrawal from friends and family, skipping school, increased use of drugs or alcohol, and comments about death or dying. It is crucial to reach out to individuals displaying these signs and provide appropriate support.
IPC provides several resources to help prevent suicide and identify warning signs. The “Illinois’ Youth Resources for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Resilience” guide, developed by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association’s Behavioral Health Advisory Forum, offers valuable information. Additionally, individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide or going through a mental health crisis can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for free and confidential support. There is also an option to chat with a crisis counselor by texting 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org/chat.
In 2022, IPC’s toxicology specialists offered consultations for nearly 12,000 suicidal overdoses across all age groups. The center’s helpline, 1-800-222-1222, is available 24/7, providing free and confidential information and treatment advice. IPC experts, serving as toxicology consultants to health care professionals in Illinois, play a vital role in supporting the prevention of poisoning cases related to suicide attempts.
Suicide prevention requires the collective effort of communities, schools, and families. By being vigilant, identifying warning signs, and providing support, we can help protect our youths’ mental well-being and reduce the incidence of suicide.
– Illinois Poison Center
– Illinois Department of Public Health
– Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report