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A Message of Hope

To hear me speak on hope –

Today’s message is a rather somber one. But it’s also, and primarily, a message of hope. Depression and suicide in our youth is a very real and significant issue that due to societal stigmatization is often not addressed. However, we know that the most effective means of prevention is to openly discuss it.

In the U.S. suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for our youth aged 10-24. In fact, in the 10-14 year old age group, suicide has now surpassed motor vehicle crashes as a cause of death. That’s not a typo, ages 10-14. For youths in grades 9-12, we know that 16% have considered suicide, 13% have created a plan to carry it out, and 8% have attempted. Fresno County has seen a significant increase in youth suicide since 2008, this follows a national trend. Causal factors are many and sometimes complex

Much like a mosaic, there are many pieces that lead a young person to despair which may bring them to contemplation of suicide.

1) Genetics/Biology – there are some chemical imbalances which can occur in the brain that may lead to depression.
2) Environment – our home life as a child and in developing years can contribute to how we react to the stressors of life especially if there’s a history of mental illness in the family.
3) Temperament – our individual responses to stress and our coping mechanisms certainly play a part.
4) Life Experiences – Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) such as significant loss through death, divorce, or abandonment. Histories of child abuse, bullying, or incarceration are all examples of life challenges that also contribute.

Warning signs would include a person making suggestive remarks or even talking openly about wanting to die. Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Having a sense of being a burden on others. Isolating oneself from others, friends, family. Withdrawing from things they once found enjoyable, sports, music, hobbies. Mood swings, particularly in males, aggression, anger, quick tempered.

As family and friends or even teammates and acquaintances, we can provide hope to the person in despair, simply by taking an interest in their well-being. If we recognize or suspect a person is continuously down and has the signs related above, intervening by simple conversation and whole heartedly listening to their story can provide a sense of hope. But it doesn’t stop there. We need to provide reassurance that recovery is indeed a reality.

We then must act, by taking the person to those who can intervene clinically. If one is unsure how to do this, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for direction. This national repository will assist both those who are in despair as well as those trying to help.

One may also direct the person to a physician, a counselor (school or independent), clergy, or if the situation is dire, to an emergency department or call 911.  We also can learn more about how best to intervene through courses such as Question/Persuade/Refer (QPR) or safeTALK.

We offer hope by simply caring for each other and by not looking the other way. For more information on programs which can assist contact me at (559) 353 5989 or cflores@valleychildrens.org and I’d be happy to provide you with details. You may also contact Kelly Orender, Fresno Survivors of Suicide Loss at (559) 322-5877 or Christine Roup, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (559) 224-2469.

In addition the below link is to an excellent video produced by Mayo Clinic which provides a great deal of insight.

To hear me speak on hope –

By Carlos Flores – RN FCN

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