By Lindsay Starr Platt
Thursday afternoon Cedar Crest Hospital in Belton hosted Community Day for area agencies and organizations that work with youth to learn how to prevent suicide.
Clark Flatt, founder of The Jason Foundation, was the speaker for the event and told attendees how important it is to recognize the symptoms of suicidal tendencies. More than 80 attendees made it to the event for a chance to learn how to protect our youth and learn the warning signs of suicide.
“More than 5,200 young will be lost to suicide every year,” said Flatt. “Each week, that is 100 young people that will die from our silent epidemic. It seems like all generations have had their silent epidemic, such as teen pregnancy.”
Flatt started The Jason Foundation after his son Jason committed suicide in 1996 at the age of 16. Flatt described his son as “the perfect kid” and had no idea he was thinking of ending his own life.
Center for Disease Control states that suicide is the second leading cause of death in ages 12-18 in the nation, only surpassed by “unintentional injury”. In Texas, suicide is also the second leading death of young people.
“Girls will attempt suicide three more times than boys. Why? We do not know,” said Flatt. “And boys complete suicide at a rate four times higher than girls. Girls often choose drugs, which provides a ‘window of opportunity’ for intervention, and boys have historically chosen firearms. A recent trend is girls are turning to more lethal means at an alarming rate, such as suffocation/hanging. If girls attempt suicide more and now are using more lethal means. What is going to happen to those more attempts? It will mean more completions.”
The leading cause of suicide, no matter what age, is depression. More than 650,000 youth are in the beginning of depression. One out of seven youth nationally have made a suicide plan. One out of 12 youths have attempted suicide in the last 12 months.
“If they call it serious, you better take it serious. They are willing to die to get rid of that pain. That pain may seem like nothing to you, but to that kid that day, it means everything,” said Flatt. “Basic rule: if you have a doubt about a youth get the highest professional help you can for them immediately.”
The Jason Foundation never charges for its programs. The Jason Foundation just wants people to get involved, be aware and utilize resources to end the suicide epidemic. They also have developed an app that is available on most mobile devices, “A Friend Asks” and is able to guide someone through the warning signs of suicide and “Get Help Now” option.
“This was really informative. I work with youth and we address this subject quite often,” said Shandoline Williams of Central Texas Youth Services. “The stats show this is really an epidemic.”
Flatt wants people to know that “Not my kid syndrome” is not the right answer. People never know when they will have to worry about suicide with their own children.
“I learned the biggest indicators are prior attempts and a statement that they will do it,” said Kenneth Bobo, Community Liason at Cross Creek. “If any of your friends say anything like that, tell an adult or a counselor immediately.”