Many of Our Nation's Teenagers are Hurting... - Cincinnati Children's Blog

Many of Our Nation’s Teenagers are Hurting…

… a lot more than most of us realize.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, 4,600 young lives end too soon as a result of suicide. In a nationwide survey of youth in 9th to 12th grade, 16% of students surveyed said they seriously considered suicide; 13% said they created a plan; and 8% of those students attempted to take their own life.

It is numbers like these that inspired the Butler Foundation to provide funding more than a decade ago for the Division of Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s to develop and implement an in-school program to interrupt the chain of suicidal behavior and help suicidal children and adolescents in the Cincinnati area access the services they need when they need them.

Surviving The Teens – the mental health awareness and suicide prevention program that Cathy Strunk, a suicide prevention expert, developed in 2001 – helps adults and teens predict potential suicides and stop them before they happen.

The program has three components: student training, a parent program, and a gatekeeper program for school staff and community members. Each component helps teens, parents, and educators recognize the stressors, warning signs, symptoms and at-risk behaviors that signal depression or suicide risk in teens.

The program connects a licensed mental health specialist with students in their classrooms at school. It teaches them the importance of psychological health as well as coping mechanisms to address stress, depression, suicide, suicide prevention and more.

Through the program, the students become more aware of their own and their peers’ mental health and learn how to utilize tools and information so they can reach out for support if they need it.

To date, Surviving the Teens has reached more than 70,000 teenagers. Parents and staff in 45 Cincinnati-area schools have participated in the parent program and gatekeeper program.

There is constant demand from new schools seeking the support for their students.

And thanks to ongoing support from the James W. Miller Memorial Fund, the program has grown substantially and continues to grow.

Nancy Eigel Miller founded the James W. Miller Memorial Fund in memory of her husband Jim who took his own life in 2008. Each year, Nancy and her family organize the Warrior Run: The Race for Life – an annual 5K run, one-mile walk and family festival as a way to honor Jim’s memory but also as a catalyst for conversation about depression and suicide – a conversation that Nancy insists must happen in order for things to get better.

The 2013 Warrior Run will take place on Saturday, October 12 in Mariemont. All proceeds of the run benefit Cincinnati Children’s Surviving the Teens Program. Everyone is welcome to register and help more teenagers know the warning signs of suicide and know how to get help.

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Kate Setter

About the Author: Kate Setter

Kate manages social media at Cincinnati Children's, a role that she loves because it gives her opportunities to help families find stories and pediatric health information that they want and need. Kate is the mother of two elementary-age kiddos.

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