Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is trying to prevent more youth suicides.
Renee Faber is the prevention manager in the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health.
She says a 5 year federal grant is helping train teachers and school staff, and increase mental health screenings.
“In 2014, suicide was actually the leading cause of death for 10 to 14 year olds in Nebraska and the second leading cause of death for 15 to 25 year olds,” Faber tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Overall, our suicide rates in our state are higher than the national average and these are numbers that we just cannot accept.”
Faber says they want to spread a message of hope that help is available and suicide is preventable.
“We know Nebraska youth have reported increased sadness, thoughts of suicide, and more suicide attempts,” she says. “What we’re doing is trying to help everyone know it’s OK to talk about suicide, equip them with tools to help them feel more comfortable talking about it and asking questions to be able to effectively communicate with those who might be vulnerable.”
The federal grant has allowed DHHS to offer a new program called “Question, Persuade, and Refer,” which teaches the warning signs of suicide and how to seek help.
“Suicide is often only spoken behind closed doors, it’s a hushed conversation, or one that’s just completely avoided just due to stigma, or family members and friends not knowing what to say,” Faber says. “We’re really hoping to help people understand we should treat this like any other important public health issue, but do so with caution.”
More information about the “Question, Persuade, and Refer” training is HERE.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:33]