Teen and child suicide is a serious topic in the United States and a major cause of death among our youth. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reports that:
-For children ages 10 to 24, suicide is the third highest cause of death
-In one study of children in grades 9 to 12, in the past year before the survey was given, 16% had reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan to create suicide, and 8% had actually tried to commit suicide
-Some ethnic groups are more affected than others: Native Americans have the highest suicide rates of any ethnic group, with Hispanics also experiencing a higher than average risk of suicide
-Risk factors for youth suicide include depression or history of mental illness, stressful life event or loss, alcohol drug abuse, and family history of suicide, among other risk factors (1).
Fortunately, there are some things you can do as a parent to lessen your child’s risk of suicide. One of these things may include holding more family meals (2). Family meals give you a chance to stay close and connected to your children and help them feel supported and trusted by you.
In fact, a study conducted by Utah county’s own health department in February of this year found that among Utah students, those who ate five or more meals every week were half as likely to have considered suicide in the past year (3).
Talk with your children and find out what’s going on in their lives. Family meals are a great time to do that, and you may be making of a difference in your children’s lives than your realize. Also, head over to Utah county’s report on youth suicide for more information about youth suicide in Utah–it’s important to stay informed and find out what you can do to help the youth in your life: http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/hsu/1502_Suicide.pdf
- Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. (2015). Suicide Prevention. Injury Prevention and Control: Division of Violence and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_suicide.html
- Fulkerson, J. A., Story, M., Mellin, A., Leffert, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & French, S. A. (2006). Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: Relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors.Journal of Adolescent Health, 39(3), 337-345.
- Utah Department of Health. (2015). Utah Health Status Update: Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Suicide. Retrieved from: http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/hsu/1502_Suicide.pdf