Youth depression and suicide is an international issue that still competes daily for fundamental understanding and a firm foothold in our national awareness — as though this comprehensive issue is just no big deal in the minds of many and doesn’t yet seem to warrant international attention. Regrettably, the statistics suggest otherwise.
Sept. 12–17 was National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week. NSU hosted a week–long lecture series on this critical sociological issue, culminating Sept. 15 at the NSU Maltz Center for Psychological Studies with the Ganley Foundation’s presentation of data and commentary on youth depression and suicide. The statistical data on the issue is rather sobering and demands attention right here at NSU.
Contrary to popular belief, suicide, and its attempt, is the direct result of neurobiological illness or injury — not choice, anger, upset, or retribution. The facts unveil the truth for the naysayers among us:
- Nationally, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in college student populations
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in high–school aged citizens nationally
- In Florida, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death
- Nationally, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death
- Statistically, mental illness is just as lethal as physical illness or injury
- Suicide is a genuine act of self–injury with the intent to die — not a failed attempt at simply feigning “overly” dramatic demonstration.
- Mental illness and suicide play no favorites. The neurobiological bases for mental illness and suicidal acts demonstrate no apparent bias and effortlessly cross all cultural and sociological boundaries. Everyone is susceptible. No one is immune.
It was sobering to sit among the lecture attendees and note that, statistically, among the 30 or so NSU psychology majors and masters candidates in attendance:
- 6 will suffer clinical depression at some point during their lifetimes
- 6 will seriously consider suicide as their only option to escape their woes
- 3 will actually attempt suicide as the only option to alleviate their emotional pain
- Only 1 out of 3 who attempt suicide will receive any help whatsoever
In other words, out of the 30 attendants in that lecture hall in Maltz on Sept. 15, at least three are likely to attempt suicide in the near future. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s simply a matter of “who” and “when.”
In the United States, there are 12 suicides occurring daily among our nation’s youth, with one youth suicide taking place every 2 hours and 11 minutes.
This is reality. In Florida, the suicide rate nearly — and consistently — doubles our state homicide rate every year and there are approximately 30 failed suicide attempts for every one effective suicide.
Grace L. Carricarte, 10–year veteran School Suicide Prevention Specialist, and Executive Director at the Florida division of the international Ganley Foundation, presented statistic after statistic, along with so much relevant commentary, on the depth and scope of human clinical depression and suicide, particularly among our nation’s youngest, best, and brightest.
Carricarte has devoted her life to society’s mental health, and the information she brings to bear is, after all, unsettling, to say the least. And yet, as chilling as the data may be, Carricarte makes a compelling case in that this critical issue demands our nation’s immediate, open–minded attention and unfettered compassion.
“Even as a teenager, promoting mental health is something to which I have always aspired. Being able to help others in such desperate need, and supporting mental health in society at large, has brought to me the most rewarding life I could possibly imagine,” she said. “My personal mission is to share those rewards and gifts with everyone in need whom I can reach. The time is long overdue that society understands that mental illness is no different than any other physical illness or injury. The brain is a physical element of the human body. When the brain malfunctions, the body naturally follows suit.”
Ashley Jarvis, first-year NSU clinical psychology major, walked out of that lecture hall a changed professional. She said, “My goal has always been to work with suicidal youth. It’s personal for me. This week’s program has broadened my understanding of the issue and deepened my resolve to continue working and devoting my life to supporting the distinctly unique psychological needs of today’s youth.”
National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual event designed to raise awareness that the genuine underlying factors for suicide are quite the departure from the historical interpretations of the conditions resulting in self–annihilation. When we consider the historical numbers of suicides in America’s youth — the demographic most susceptible to clinical depression and suicide — the issue is brought home right here to the NSU campus, where the pressures of excellence and perseverance are as high as anywhere in life.
The lecture series at NSU could have held no more value than by what it brought to bear in enlightening attendants as to how to identify the initial warning signs of depression and suicide, the underlying factors, methods of approaching identifiable victims of depression and potential victims of suicide, and exposure to the wide array of available and highly effective treatment options.
The essential purpose of this critically acclaimed national annual event is to dispel the societal myths, expose the truth, dismantle the stigmas, and bring our international community into the understanding that mental illness is exactly that — an illness — nothing more, and nothing less than any other sort of physical illness or injury suffered by anyone in modern society. And, there is help.
The mission of the Ganley Foundation is to bring this highly common malady into specific relief in order to ease the tensions surrounding the sociological misconceptions and misinterpretations so that victims of depression and their families are less inclined to keep their deadly secrets, and so that all concerned are more inclined to speak out and bring a whole new level of support and assistance to their loved–ones who needlessly suffer in silence.
The NSU Suicide and Violence Prevention staff is devoted to creating a safety net in our community and helping to prevent suicide and violence.
The most effective way to prevent suicide and violence are to know the warning signs. Take the signs seriously and support individuals in accessing the available resources.
It takes a university to create a living safety net. Learn how to get involved.
Remember — the only real risk is in doing nothing.
Contact Erin Procacci, Ph.D., at the NSU Office of Suicide and Violence Prevention: http://nova.edu/suicideprevention/
For concerns about NSU students: call the Henderson Student Counseling hotline: (954) 424–6911.
For concerns about NSU employees: call the MHNet hotline at 1–877–398–5816, TTY: 1–800–338–2039.
If you or someone you know is suffering and you want to learn how to help, you can call a Suicide Prevention hotline for 24/7 support: 1–800–SUICIDE (784–2433),1–800–273–TALK (8255)