EARLY YEARS: September is Suicide Prevention Month

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 5:57 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Studies indicate suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people from ages 10 to 24.

September is Suicide Prevention Month.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a mental and emotional toll on many of us over the past several months.

“The struggles people are having, the anxiety and the depression. The CDC recently did a study or a survey and 40 percent of Americans are reporting they’re struggling with mental health issues,” says Prevention and Wellness Specialist Sheila Lythgoe.

As tough as it is on adults, it’s often even more difficult for children and adolescents, who might lack adequate coping skills.

“Things are really different. They can’t connect with their friends like they used to. School looks different. They’re just not getting that interaction. Of course, they have social media, but we still need to be with people and connected face-to-face,” says Lythgoe.

For suicide prevention month, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare is offering ways to raise awareness through several training opportunities.

“We have a talk saves lives, which is a one-hour introduction to suicide prevention, which goes into the research and warning signs, and also what they can do to help somebody,” says Lythgoe.

Some of the most common signs of depression or suicide risk among youth:

  • Isolation
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Other major changes in mood

“I think it’s important with kids to understand that impulsivity is a huge thing and that children often act impulsively and not thinking of consequences,” says Cathy Brown with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare.

That’s why Brown says parents need to watch out for signs of depression, and monitor their child’s social media, especially with kids having more time online.

Also, be mindful to keep kids from having access to any dangerous items or weapons.

“Being able to carefully monitor if a child does have symptoms of depression, that they don’t have the ability to have a weapon available or something like that they could potentially cause harm to themselves,” says Brown.

Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare is giving away trigger locks, cable locks and medication lock boxes. If you’d like to receive one, you can email Sheila Lythgoe at

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