By Lou Ponsi
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10 to 24.
Because of this, it is important for parents to understand the warning signs, how to help, that it is okay to talk about suicide, and the available school and community mental health resources for students and families in crisis, said Meghan Gruppo, a certified clinical trauma professional with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE).
Gruppo, a project assistant with the OCDE’s Crisis Response Network, will be one of three expert presenters during an upcoming webinar hosted by the OCDE’s Crisis Response Network titled Youth Suicide Awareness.
The webinar, which is being offered for parents and caregivers, takes place from 2 to 3 p.m. Sept. 30.
In addition, the recent pandemic has limited youth’s access to friends, social activities and athletics. When youth do not have a healthy outlet, they are more likely to develop depression and anxiety, which can lead to suicidal ideation.
The webinar will cover suicide risk factors and warning signs, along with strategies on working with youngsters who may be contemplating suicide.
The COVID 19 pandemic has added to the risk factors associated with suicide because the quarantine and school shutdowns have limited youth’s access to friends, social activities and athletics, Gruppo said.
“When youth do not have a healthy outlet, they are more likely to develop depression and anxiety, which can lead to suicidal ideation,” Gruppo said.
Warning signs of suicidal ideation are often significant and may include sudden changes in behavior, she said.
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, withdrawal from friends and family, self-harming behavior and fascination with death or suicide are some of the warning signs that will be discussed.
“Parents can help their child by monitoring social media, web searches, and email,” Gruppo said. “We understand that privacy is important, but getting your child help is priority.”
Parents and caregivers should ask their children directly if they are thinking about suicide and reach out to community mental health resources, she said.
Parents should not hesitate in calling 911 if they believe their child or someone they know is in danger, Gruppo said.
Along with Gruppo, presenters will be Lisa Nguyen, Program Support with the OCDE’s Crisis Response Network, and Mindy Daffron, crisis team manager with the Trauma Intervention Program.
Mental health and suicide prevention resources will also be provided.
Following the presentation parents can email questions directly to the Crisis Response Team. Register here for the webinar: https://ocde.k12oms.org/event_register.php?id=192137.