Empowering Youth to Prevent Suicide
Emergency room visits for 12- to 17-year-olds suspected of attempting suicide increased 31 percent during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This trend was especially pronounced for girls, whose ER visits after suspected attempts were 50.6 percent higher in the winter of 2021 than during the same period in 2019.
Several states are using the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to address the mental health impacts of the pandemic. And many state boards of education were already addressing youth suicide prevention through a range of strategies.2 A 2020 NASBE report stressed the importance of a model youth suicide prevention policy as part of a cross-sector state suicide prevention strategy.
To increase the impact of state and local strategies, state leaders may also consider policies directed at equipping students to help peers struggling with suicidal thoughts. Students also need to know when and how to seek help when they themselves are struggling or in crisis. …