UW Health highlights mental health advocacy for National Suicide Prevention Week
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - To honor National Suicide Prevention Week, UW Health is reminding everyone that there is help available if you or someone you know is struggling.
In July, the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number (988) dropped. It was created to help provide an effective alternative to 911, with the new number allowing callers to talk to trained crisis counselors 24/7.
Suicide rates are currently on the rise, and UW Health explained that it is currently the third leading cause of death for young people.
“I think it’s surprising to see how much it’s increased; I think the trend we were maybe aware of even going into the pandemic but then really seeing the increase, especially the number of patients going to the ER or going to the hospital for ODs,” Dr. Laura Houser, a pediatrician from UW Health, said.
Dr. Houser recommends using 988 for parents who are concerned about a child and need resources. She also says families should not be afraid to talk about suicide.
Schools and churches should also able to be a place of support and trusted resources, Dr. Houser said.
Safer Communities executive director Cheryl Wittke recommended that people follow the ‘question, persuade and refer’ process while trying to help someone in pain. She suggests using thoughtful but direct language when talking with a family member, loved one or friend.
UW Health Kids and American Association of Suicidology recommend parents watch for the following in children to help identify key warning signs for suicide:
- Ideation: talking about or threatening to harm or kill oneself, looking for ways to kill oneself, and talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
- Increased substance use
- Anxiety: worry, fear, agitation or changes in sleep pattern
- Feeling trapped, like there is no way out of a bad situation
- Withdrawal from friends, family and society
- Mood changes
UW Health says if parents notice any of these signs, to call their child’s doctor or seek help immediately if needed.
“The health and safety of our children should be a top priority,” Houser said. “Though there are many challenges young people face when it comes to mental health, it is hopeful to see more communication about it than ever, and together with new and expanding resources, we can work to prevent suicide.”
If you or a loved one is concerned, the new national suicide crisis hotline 988 is available 24/7.
Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.