Access to Mental Health Services Key to Reducing Youth Suicide Rates

BUFFALO N.Y. -- According to research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at least one in five teenagers will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24. 

Advocates in Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) say a 2015 survey showed 13 percent of high schoolers and 16 percent of middle schoolers have seriously considered suicide. Social workers who counsel BPS students say parents need to be more proactive and talk to their children about how they're feeling. 

"Please try to think of somebody in your life that you trust that you can tell something's going on," said BPS Social Worker Lisa Boehringer. "I think as a school and all districts, not just Buffalo, have a responsibility to do more suicide prevention and awareness."

Boehringer says more access to services for students, as well as parents, is key to reducing youth suicide rates.

Advocates at the Mental Health Association of Erie County say the resources are available, but people need to have the courage to reach out. 

"We have a campaign called 'Just Tell One.' Justtellone.org is a website that you can go to for both young people as well as parents and adults," said Karl Shallowhorn, director of Community Advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer Buffalo. "So they can find out how to start that conversation, how to open up and talk to someone, how to find that trusted adult. Also how to help that parent or even educator know how to respond if someone comes to them to seek help." 

Boehringer says records showed nine percent of BPS high school students and eight percent of middle school students attempted suicide in 2015.

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