Photo: Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the country among people aged 15 to 24. Photo Courtesy of Empathy Educates.
Suicide is “a serious public health problem” that affects young people, especially lately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, it is the third leading cause of death, resulting in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year.
And so, in an effort to combat suicide among school-aged children, the state Senate has passed a bill that would require the Education Department and Office of Mental Health to develop materials focusing on suicide prevention and signs of depression among school-aged children and
to provide them to educators throughout New York.
Under the bill, the SED and OMH would develop materials on suicide prevention and signs of depression to be made available through their public websites. In addition, SED would be charged with ensuring that suicide prevention instruction is provided to secondary-school aged children by certified health education teachers.
“There is no question that early intervention and recognition of suicidal behavior is key to preventing these heart-breaking incidents among students,” said Addabbo. “With teen suicide approaching epidemic proportions, we need to keep our eyes wide open—paying close attention to our children, both at home and at school and working to better recognize the signs of impending tragedy.”
The bill is currently under review by the Assembly Education Committee.
Suicide affects all youth, according to the CDC, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81 percent of the deaths were males and 19 percent were females. Girls are more likely to report attempting suicide than boys. Cultural variations in suicide rates also exist, with Native American/Alaskan Native youth having the highest rates of suicide-related fatalities. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the U.S. found Hispanic youth were more likely to report attempting suicide than their black and white, non-Hispanic peers.
“As a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and grief of losing a child, particularly by their own hand,” said Addabbo, the father of two daughters. “This educational outreach could help to ensure that fewer mothers and fathers are ever placed in a position of suffering these insurmountable and senseless tragedies.”
By Michael V. Cusenza