Teenage suicide is something that concerns my friends and me, and it should be a huge concern nationwide. It is shocking how many teenagers think about and / or complete suicide. One in ten teens seriously considers suicide. Where I live, Colorado, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 years old. I think it is ridiculous that such a preventable cause of death has tripled among teenaged people in the U.S. over the past thirty years. More people need to be aware of this issue, and I am determined to educate people about suicide prevention.
I have a very personal experience with teen suicide. I lost a very close friend to suicide two years ago. I saw my friend of ten years in a coffin, and I spoke at her funeral to hundreds of people who were in as much disbelief as I was. I never want to experience those feelings again, and I would never wish those feelings on anyone else. Suicide is final, yet it is incomplete for the friends and family of that person, because there is no goodbye to suicide.
About three months after Krissy died I contacted the El Paso County Health Department, Injury & Violence Prevention Program Manager about what I could do to help educate other teens about suicide prevention. After discussing what I wanted and what the county needed I decided on putting together a short video that would be used in their educational presentations to area schools and parents. During my learning process, I found out how common teen suicide is in Colorado and the nation. Many of the signs suicidal people exhibit are hard to detect if one is not prepared or trained to look for them. All teens and adult should know the signs and how to help. If someone exhibits the signs, friends or persons close to them should approach them about it or tell a counselor or another trusted adult about that person. Everyone should know suicide prevention.
To spread the word on this issue, I created a Teen Suicide Public Service Announcement (PSA). It is a thirty second video that has some of the statistics, the signs, and how someone can help themselves or others. The whole project can be summed up into one tagline: “Break the Silence.” Suicide should not be kept a secret. It is an issue that is preventable. My PSA is on YouTube.com and TeacherTube.com. I have been featured on a local television show, local evening news and a newspaper article. It is being shown on a school district television show that is repeated. I have been a speaker for community programs and continue to be asked to speak to schools and various community programs. A Denver health program is using part of my PSA in their advertising of a training program they have for at risks kids.
This PSA is available to schools who are using the Safe Teen program on teen suicide prevention as part of their training for teachers, students and parents. When making this PSA I designed it to have an impact to the viewer and to try and make them aware of what signs teens can exhibit when contemplating suicide. I used mutual friends of Krissy and 'suicide survivors' from a local help group in the filming. The Safe Teen program that our county health department brings to schools requesting it is in danger of losing it's funding. This program is free to all of our schools and I do not want to see it lose it's funding. When you look at the statistics of Colorado having one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country I think this program should stay and help wipe out teen suicide.
My PSA is spreading the word that teen suicide is a major problem. I hope that within my generation, suicide can be reduced and not keep multiplying as it has been in the past thirty years. My friends and I, and the generation that comes after should live in a positive time when everyone looks out for each other’s well-being.
You can view my PSA on YouTube.com: