As our communities struggle to help young people manage the shock and sadness of a 19 year old Sacred Heart student’s recent suicide in New York City, it is important to remind teens and their families of the role they can play in suicide prevention and in accessing services to help.

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Teens often listen and talk to each other more than to adults, so peers can be a powerful influence on a friend who is struggling.

Signs that a young person might be in trouble or need help include:

  • Sudden change in mood or behavior
  • Withdrawal or dropping out of activities
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide (social media, texts or in-person)
  • Social rejection or isolation

When a teen or friend is exhibiting these behaviors, it is best to approach them directly and ask how they are doing. Sometimes the hardest conversations are the ones where you don’t want to hear the answers, like asking about suicide. “It is better to have an angry friend, than to avoid an awkward conversation and possibly regret it,” says Dr. Jessica Welt, CEO & Clinical Director of the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT. One of the strongest “protective factors” in decreasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior is a feeling of connectedness with family, community, or friends.

Another “protective factor” against suicidal thoughts and behaviors is easy access to mental health care. In Connecticut, confidential and free or low-cost mental health care is available through the State’s 2-1-1 hotline for Mobile Crisis Intervention Services. A call to 2-1-1 is answered 24 hours a day/365 days a year by a specially trained telephone operator, and a Mobile Crisis clinician will be on-site within 45 minutes. In lower Fairfield County, Mobile Crisis services through 2-1-1 are provided by the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT, an affiliate of Community Health Center, Inc.

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About Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, Inc.

The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut (CGC) is dedicated to improving the mental and behavioral health of children and teens through treatment, education, and community support. CGC serves children, from birth to 18, in Stamford Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan. CGC’s clinical staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other clinicians work with more than 2,000 children annually, providing culturally competent and sensitive care to families. Preventative services are provided to youth, parents and professionals through community education and consultation programs. For more information, visit www.childguidancect.org.

About Community Health Center, Inc.
Founded in 1972, with offices in California, Colorado and Connecticut, Community Health Center, Inc. is transforming healthcare nationally. CHC provides medical, dental and behavioral care to 150,000 patients, many uninsured and underserved, at more than 200 locations in Connecticut and is recognized as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by NCQA and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission. Healthcare providers in more than 40 states participate in CHC’s telehealth, training, and workforce development programs, improving patient care across the county. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.